WACO, Texas — Robert Griffin III played football for years simply because he was good at it.
Then Baylor’s exciting dual-threat quarterback tore the ACL in his right knee and missed the last nine games of the 2009 season. While stuck on the sideline watching, he realized just how much he loved the game.
“After a knee injury like that, a lot of times you see guys come back and it’s not the same,” Griffin said. “So I didn’t want that to be attached to me, great player, got hurt, never was the same. ... My goal was to come back better, not only for myself, but for my teammates.”
Goal accomplished for Griffin, who excelled while raising Baylor out of the Big 12 basement.
Already the winner of the Heisman Trophy and Davey O’Brien Award, Griffin won AP Player of the Year on Wednesday.
The aspiring lawyer, who arrived at Baylor nearly four years ago as a 17-year-kid after graduating high school early, is the nation’s most efficient passer this season, throwing for 3,998 yards with a Big 12-leading 36 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also ran for 644 yards and nine more scores.
Baylor (9-3) has a five-game winning streak, its longest in 20 years, going into the Alamo Bowl next week. With a win over Washington, the 15th-ranked Bears would match the school record of 10 wins set during Mike Singletary’s senior season in 1980.
In his comeback from injury last year, after getting a medical redshirt that means he’s now a fourth-year junior, Griffin helped lead the Bears to their first Top 25 ranking since 1993 and their first bowl game in the Big 12 era. Baylor hadn’t even had a winning season in the first 14 Big 12 seasons.
That year on the sideline was the toughest for Griffin and the Bears, who went from big expectations to another losing record without their star quarterback.
“You miss out making plays and doing great things,” Griffin said. “I missed playing, I missed practicing, but you really just miss your teammates.”
RG3 now faces the big choice of whether to return for one more season at rising Baylor or go into the NFL Draft.