Baylor speedsters still daydream about Olympics

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

WACO, Texas -- It's understandable why Baylor wide receiver David Gettis and freshman quarterback Robert Griffin have both wondered a little bit over the last few days watching the Olympics on television.

Gettis, a wide receiver who formerly was the first prep athlete in California history to claim three-straight 400 meter titles, daydreamed briefly about his track career while watching some of the world's best running at Beijing.

The excitement of his team's approaching game against No. 23 Wake Forest helped him get through any pangs of regret.

"I had the itch, I'm not going to lie," Gettis said. "But I understand we have seven days until Wake Forest and I'm really excited about that. That's been on my mind the last few months. It doesn't bother me, but I'd be lying to tell you I haven't thought that I could have been there."

Griffin is hooked up in a tight battle for the starting job at quarterback with Blake Szymanski and Kirby Freeman. His major attribute is his speed, which helped spur his recent mention as one of college football's top 10 "workout warriors" in a piece written by ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman.

"Speed is an asset that God has blessed me with," said Griffin, who has been nicknamed "Rambo" by his Baylor teammates because of his physical conditioning. "You've got to be smart about it and not just outrun everybody. "

But his speed provided him with confidence that he might have had a better chance to be at Beijing than some might expect. Griffin had a personal best of 46.9 in the 400 meters and his 300 hurdles time was one-hundredth of a second off the national prep record. He finished third in the NCAA outdoor championships in the 400 hurdles earlier this year and won the Big 12 championship with the third-fastest time in Baylor's illustrious track history.

"If I hadn't done football, I would have been at the Olympics right now," Griffin said. "But it wasn't in God's plan. I'm here playing with these guys and enjoying myself playing football."

Baylor coach Art Briles is glad he has both players on his roster. Both should have the kind of game-breaking speed that will be important as the Bears try to climb out of the Big 12 South cellar and qualify for their first bowl game since 1994.

Gettis snagged 35 passes for 489 yards last season, leading all Bears with at least 10 receptions with an average of 14.0 yards per catch.

Griffin, a 6-foot-3, 203-pounder from Copperas Cove, Texas, rushed for 1,285 yards and 24 touchdowns, passed for 16 more touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

"Those are two guys who can run," Briles said. "I learned a long time ago it's hard to tackle what you can't touch. If they can step out and make plays, we're all for it."

Griffin had originally planned to participate at the Olympic trials before arriving at college early when Briles took the Baylor job.

"I had made the qualifying time the year before, it was just whether I would compete collegiately or not and really dedicate myself," Griffin said. "If I had been from anywhere else (another country), I would have been at the Olympics. The Olympic Trials is harder than the Olympics. Once you get to Olympics it's about winning. But the Olympic Trials is harder.

"We swept the 400 hurdles. That makes anybody who runs from this country feel good, but it just didn't work out for me."

Gettis has similarly shelved his track aspirations, dedicating himself to football after alternating between football and track earlier in his college career.

"I'm definitely done with track," Gettis said. "I think I was able to balance it, but I honestly think that focusing on football will enable me to put 100 percent of my focus and make me a better football player. I don't feel like I was really getting better when I was trying to do both. Focusing on one craft should make me better."

It's also made both wonder who would win if both Gettis and Griffin lined up in a race.

"I've never run against him, but I don't think there's anybody in college football that can stay with him down the field," Griffin said. "He's just got that open-field speed. Once David gets going it's hard to slow him down. We just have to use that to our advantage."