Arizona Wildcats receiver Trey Griffey is the newest example of a guy getting a shot because of how he embraces special teams.
Griffey caught the coaches’ attention recently with his physical play on the kicking units, as he subbed for injured special teams ace Trevor Ermisch and other Wildcats who were nursing more minor injuries.
“Since he was put into the role on special teams, what it really made you see is that when he knows what he’s doing, he’s an aggressive go-get-after-it player,” said receivers coach Tony Dews.
While most fans would think first of a receiver’s pass-catching production, Dews wanted to capture Griffey’s aggressiveness as run-blocker on the perimeter for running back Ka’Deem Carey.
“I want that aggressiveness on the perimeter blocking,” Dews said.
“When you have backs like we like we have who are going to get into the open field, you want guys who are going to do their job blocking down field.”
Griffey, a redshirt freshman who hadn’t caught a pass in the first nine games, made his first career start against Washington State last Saturday, making four receptions for 45 yards. He caught a pass on Arizona’s first snap of the game.
“It felt good,” he said. “I was nervous but then it was over.”
Griffey took advantage of a playing-time opportunity at outside receiver with Garic Wharton out because of a hip flexor injury and David Richards slowed by a groin injury.
Coach Rich Rodriguez said Griffey will continue to get opportunities at receiver in Saturday’s game vs. Oregon.
“He played pretty well. There are a few things he would want back,” Rodriguez said.
“We still have confidence in David Richards and some of those other guys, but we really need to get into a deeper rotation,” Rodriguez said. In a perfect scenario for us, we’re playing seven or eight guys pretty equally the whole time. We’re not there now, but we will be there pretty shortly.”
Before Griffey, only six wideouts had caught passes for Arizona this season.
Griffey, the son of future baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., has made three special teams tackles.
“We thought, heck, let’s start getting him more offensive reps without overloading him mentality,” Rodriguez said. “And he’s been able to handle it. It’s been good.”