Rosenberg (Texas) Terry wide receiver Derrick Griffin has already been through a lot for his age. Unfortunate circumstances left him under the supervision of his grandmother and uncle.
When Griffin began playing high school football he received the greatest gift, other than family-- hope. That is where Terry head coach Tim Teykl enters the picture. Teykl's passion for the game left a lasting impact with all of those who played under him. And specifically for Griffin, Teykl provided hope by molding him into an athlete and helping him to persevere through tough circumstances life inevitably brings.
In time, Griffin blossomed as a player and scholarship offers poured in from schools all over country. Rivals.com rated him as the No. 3 wide receiver recruit in the entire nation. And last December, during the Army Bowl week, Griffin verbally committed to play at Texas A&M.
Another big honor was still yet to come, though. Griffin was well aware of what the U.S. Army All-American Bowl was because Coach Tekyl had been an honorary coach at the 2012 Army Bowl. And on Tuesday, Griffin was honored as a 2013 U.S. Army All-American with a ceremony at the school.
"It's definitely an honor," Griffin said about being selected for the game. "It means a whole lot to me. And I know it is something that makes my grandmother, uncle and Coach Teykl proud. I have God and them to thank."
Griffin's emotional speech at the ceremony was very moving and touched the audience, including Coach Teykl who spoke after Griffin.
"I would like to thank the U.S. Army for providing us this opportunity," Teykl said. "You don't think this opportunity is special; you saw a young man poor his heart out and cry. You saw moms and dads, grandma and friends since the third grade do the same thing. Money can't buy that, that's pride. That is Ranger pride. Thank you for allowing that to be showcased on a nation wide stage.
"Derrick my message to you, we are proud of you buddy. We are proud that you are an All-American and representing Terry High School. We are proud that you are representing yourself and continue to make us proud. You will do fine."
Tekyl, having been a coach at the bowl game last year, was fortunate enough to get to know the then No. 1 recruit in the nation, Dorial Green-Beckham. Beckham's background is similar to that of Griffins and Teykl compared the two athletes in that way and their athletic ability.
"I am excited to just play and get to know the other A&M commit," Griffin said.
The selection committee for the All-American Bowl not only takes into account a player's skill on the field, but also his character off of it. Griffin says that Coach Teykl, his grandmother and family have inspired him to make something of himself and the talents he has been given. And Coach Teykl says that what is at stake, life and a future, has sunk in with Griffin and that he is working hard on and off the field.
Griffin will have the opportunity to showcase his talents against the best recruits in the nation at the 13th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be nationally televised on NBC.