If the shoe fits, Jack Griffin is more than happy to put it on, and then whack a football with it.
Griffin is the versatile kicker for FIU. He kicks field goals. He handles all kickoffs. He has been the Panthers’ punter the past two games. And if that isn’t enough, he has a pretty mean dropkick.
“Yeah, sometimes we mess around in practice with dropkicks,” Griffin said. “Not with the team, but before and after practice. Last year, I hit a dropkick for about 45 or 50 yards just fooling around. That was pretty cool.”
However, don’t expect a dropkick out of Griffin in a game.
“No, we will never, never try one in a game,” Griffin said. He knows better than to even hint at such a thing to coach Mario Cristobal.
A 6-1, 205-pound senior from Naples, Griffin became a kicker in high school when his team didn’t have one. “My coach had an open tryout. I kicked the ball the farthest and the coach yelled out, ‘OK, Griffin, you’re in,’ ” he said.
Not only is Griffin versatile, he enhances the stereotype of kickers being a bit quirky. He wears a white shoe on his right foot and a black one on his left. He figures if the ball goes long and through the uprights, it isn’t necessary to make a fashion statement.
Cristobal ventured that Griffin would find his way onto a football field in one way or another.
“If he wasn’t a kicker, he would probably play a couple of different positions — probably on defense,” Cristobal said. “He’s a physical guy. Jack is a big guy, a strong guy.”
In FIU’s three games this season, Griffin has punted 16 times for a 40.6 yard average, with a long of 58 yards and four punts downed inside the 20. On kickoffs, he’s averaging 63.6 yards on 14 kicks with seven of them being touchbacks. On field goals, Griffin is 2 of 5, an average he wants to improve upon after kicking 22 field goals in 2011.
Saturday at 7 p.m. at FIU Stadium, the Panthers (1-2) and Griffin will be taking on one of their biggest challenges of the season in No. 20-ranked Louisville (3-0).
Would Griffin like the contest to come down to him hitting or missing a field goal in the final seconds? “As a kicker, you always dream of that,” he said, “but you don’t want it to really come down to that.”
Griffin might get some punting assistance Saturday as Cristobal said Josh Brisk, who started the season as the punter, might receive playing time. “We’re going to get Josh in the mix as well,” Cristobal said. “Josh will get some reps.”
Griffin carries himself with confidence and a smile. Nevertheless, he knows nerves can help and hurt a kicker. “Nerves play a big role in kicking,” he said. “You just have to have a sound head. If you think clearly, you’ll be a fine kicker.”
Then he smiled and added, “My nerves are OK.”