By Tim Whelan Jr., USA TODAY High School Sports | November 16, 2017 5:16 pm ET
Mission Viejo (Calif.) cornerback Olaijah Griffin received his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Thursday at his school as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour.
“This means everything to me,” Griffin said. “It’s a dream.”
Griffin, a 6-0, 174-pound four-star and UCLA commit, is ranked as the No. 9 cornerback in the country and the No. 7 recruit in the state of California, according to ESPN’s recruiting rankings.
“First of all it’s local, and I wanted to stay local,” Griffin said of UCLA. “And it’s a great fit. I get along really well with the coaches. I felt like I was home when I was there.”
Griffin said that USC, Washington and Michigan were also high on his list before he chose to head to Westwood.
While the son of a famous rapper says with a laugh, “I can’t rap,” he has received his father’s influence in other ways.
“He’s helped me grow as a person,” Griffin said. “He inspires me a lot, makes sure I stay on the right path. Everything he does is great.”
Before Griffin heads two hours north to college, though, he hopes he and the Diablos (11-0) can win a CIF title for retiring head coach Bob Johnson.
“So far, I think we’re having a pretty good season, and I hope we keep working hard to finish this,” said Griffin, who also runs sprints and performs the long and triple jumps for the Mission Viejo track team.
He looks at Tennessee Titans rookie and former USC star Adoree’ Jackson as well as NFL legend Deion Sanders as models for the technique and manner in which he likes to play.
“I love having the ball in my hands, because I started off as a receiver,” Griffin said. “If I had to choose, though, it’s cornerback. Wherever they put me, I’m happy.”
The Under Armour All America Game is scheduled for Jan. 4 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. and will be televised live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. EST.