2014 was a roller coaster year for Adam Griffith. The rising junior started the season a perfect 7 for 7 on field goal attempts, until Alabama’s matchup against Florida. He missed a 45-yard attempt against the Gators, resulting in a struggle to maintain his confidence. Griffith connected on five of his final 12 field goal attempts, totaling 12 of 19 made field goals (63.2 percent).
Griffith is from Stargard Szczecinksi, a small Polish town in Eastern Europe. He grew up an orphan, but was adopted at age 13 and brought to Calhoun, Ga. He developed a love for soccer, but his leg would soon become a recruiting tool for American football.
Griffith was one of the top incoming place-kickers nationally in 2012. 247 sports and Scout.com both rated him No.1 in the nation. A former three-star prospect, Griffith averaged 68 yards per kick on kickoffs at Calhoun High School. He nailed a 32-yard field goal in overtime, delivering Calhoun to a Georgia AA State Championship over Buford in 2011.
Griffith redshirted his freshman season in 2012, but saw action as a backup kicker in 2013. He appeared in eight games as a redshirt freshman, nailing all five of his extra-point tries. Griffith went 1 for 3 on field goal attempts.
A matchup against Auburn remains a haunting memory. He was called upon to try a 57-yard field goal with one second remaining in regulation. The game was tied at 28, and Griffith’s kick fell short. It rolled into the endzone, and Auburn’s Chris Davis returned it for a 109-yard touchdown. The Crimson Tide fell to Auburn, 34-28.
Alabama fans witnessed Griffith’s success against West Virginia, and thought his confidence had grown more. He made all four of his attempts, including a trio of kicks in excess of 40 yards.
His confidence took a hit after Alabama’s game against Florida, but Griffith also dealt with injuries. He was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back, after Alabama’s 20-13 win over LSU. The issue continued against Mississippi State and Western Carolina. Griffith appeared in Alabama’s 79th Iron Bowl matchup against Auburn; however, he split reps with backup Gunnar Raborn. Kickoff duty was the lone bright spot for Griffith in 2014. He averaged 61.4 yards per kick, netting 20 touchbacks.
Struggling kickers usually develop consistency by their junior season. Former Alabama placekicker Leigh Tiffin can attest to this statement. He had rough outings as a freshman and sophomore, but emerged in his junior season. Tiffin made 20 of 29 field goals in 2008 and was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award. He was automatic as a senior, accounting for 30 of 35 made field goal attempts (87.9 percent). Tiffin became Alabama’s all-time leading scorer with 350 points. He became a finalist for the Lou Groza Award in 2009.
Jeremy Shelley missed 11 field goals in his tenure, but will be remembered for setting a BCS National Championship Game record with five made field goal attempts in 2012 against LSU. He finished his career, nailing 80 percent of his kicks (44 of 55). Shelley’s 172 made extra-points was an Alabama record, and placed him as the fifth leading scorer in program history.
Van Tiffin, Phillip Doyle and Micahel Proctor are all legends. Tiffin’s greatest accomplish was connecting on a 52-yard field goal, delivering Alabama to a 25-23 victory over Auburn in the 1985 Iron Bowl as time expired. He still holds the record for longest converted field goal in program history, a successful 57-yard attempt against Texas A&M in 1985. Doyle and Proctor both set records at Alabama, until Leigh Tiffin surpassed them in 2009.
A strong performance in 2015 could give Adam Griffith a chance to carve his name alongside these individuals. He has to focus on driving the ball accurately and follow through on his motions. Griffith has the potential; it’s his confidence that needs to be lifted. Spring practice, A-Day and scrimmage games will be ideal in helping with his development.