Photo: Southside High seniors Gavin Orr and Gavin Griffin signed college football scholarships on Feb. 7 at the school library. Pictured, from left: Orr’s dad Tim, Gavin Orr, Orr’s mom Tonya, Griffin’s dad Rob, Gavin Griffin, Griffin’s mom Kerri. (Chris McCarthy)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
A pair of Panthers recently received a big boost to their academic and athletic careers.
Southside High seniors Gavin Orr and Gavin Griffin signed college football scholarships on Feb. 7 in the school library.
Orr signed with Samford University in Birmingham, while Griffin inked with West Alabama in Livingston.
“Since I was a little kid, I’ve always dreamed of playing college football,” said Griffin. “I’ve worked endless hours trying to get to this point, so this is like a dream come true. I want to go into exercise science, and [West Alabama] has a really good program, so it’s a good fit. Also, the people there really made me feel at home and I love the coaching staff.”
In his first and only year as a starting quarterback, Griffin passed for 815 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“From the time that he first walked into the program, with G.G. (Griffin) it was always ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and ‘what do I need to do,’ no matter what it was we expected him to do,” said Southside head football coach Ron Daugherty. “He’s a testament to someone who fights through tremendous adversity and continues to believe and works hard. His work in the weight training, footwork and going to quarterback camps paid off. He got better and better in every game this year. The opportunity is always there for someone who works that hard, and I couldn’t be any more proud of him.”
A four-year starter either at both tight end and defensive end, Orr this past season caught nine passes for 112 yards.
“I’ve been excited for this all my life,” said Orr, who initially plans on studying pharmacy at Samford. “It’s always been my dream to play college football, ever since I was little, and it’s finally come true. [Samford’s] always felt like home to me. Between the campus, the coaches, the players and the academics, it felt like family. There were several great schools (that showed interest), but it just felt like a great fit with Samford.”
Daugherty noted that Orr made an immediate impact as a starter in varsity as a freshman.
“Gavin always wanted the biggest challenge, and that’s what he did for all four years that he was here. Anything we wanted him to do at any position, Gavin stepped up and did it, not just to the best of his ability but as one of the best and most physical players we’ve ever had. We always knew that if continued to work as hard as he did, he would have this opportunity.”
Griffin offered a bit for advice for the SHS underclassmen.
“Don’t wish anything away, because it all goes by in a blink of an eye. It seems like just yesterday that I was a freshman on the scout team trying not to get hit by [Auburn signee] Tyler Carr.”