• Ben Hall

Kalaii Griffin Looks to Lead UTEP in His Final Season With the Miners

Updated: Apr 13

Heading into his final season at UTEP, Kalaii Griffin will look to have a breakout season for the Miners. 

Griffin is a 6’1 linebacker from Bethesda, Maryland. He attended Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda. Griffin takes a lot of pride in being able to represent his hometown with everything he has done with football. 

“Bethesda is a small DC with its diversity and talent. Attending Walter Johnson was a struggle for football, the program was just turning around and never playing football before high school the right coaching matters,” Griffin said. “I pride myself in staying there for 4 years and not transferring out to private schools like most kids in the county to get offers. I love coming from the underdog school in Bethesda and out of BCC WHITMAN CHURCHILL still coming out and getting a couple division 1 offers.”

After high school, Griffin attended Ventura Community College in Ventura, California. While at Ventura, Griffin had 40 tackles and helped lead Ventura to a 8-3 season. Griffin was also named to the 2016 Southern California Football Association Northern Conference honorable mention defense.

“Its funny because I knew exactly why I didn’t make the first or second team! 5/6 of my PBU’S were dropped interceptions! It was still an honor to be recognized. With the type of talent we play game in and game out i felt good to be honored no matter what,” Griffin said when asked what it meant to be named honorable mention.

Griffin attended junior college for one year and he was able to learn a few things before playing at the division one level.

“I can’t stress JUCO enough, I feel like most kids are either undersized or don’t quite have the IQ to jump right into a division 1 program,” Griffin said. “I took a couple years off after highschool so knowing in order to get where I want I needed to prove myself with film at the JUCO level. Playing in California builds character, not only are you playing against the best athletes in Junior college but you are paying for everything 100% on your own for the exposure of top programs to watch you play. Ventura College, Coach Moose, Coach Morris made me a better player and better man.”

In two seasons with UTEP, Griffin has 28 tackles and 1 forced fumble. Attending UTEP took some getting used to for Griffin but UTEP has been the perfect fit for him.

“When I first arrived at UTEP the 3-4 Defense as a linebacker was different from playing safety at Ventura, though the adversity allowed me to show versatility I am very grateful for the new defensive system we have,” Griffin said “It allows me to play at my best ability. Coach Cox uses his best linebackers in the best to their abilities in packages or stunts.”

This season will be Griffins year to step up and play a huge part for the Miners. Griffin is  focussed on doing what's best for his team.

“I always keep a vision board to how exactly I want things to go but every player knows it doesn’t happen like that,” Griffin said. “I have an overall team goal to go to a bowl game! Which every player on that team wants just as bad as me. Personally I just want to continue to be a leader in anyway on and off the field/weight room and also be able to play all 4 quarters and stay healthy all season.” 

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