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Football was a sport that didn’t come around until high school for Bellarmine senior tight end/defensive lineman Griffin Waiss.
His parents would not let him compete in the sport before his freshman year because of the fear of head injuries. So, Waiss waited his turn, chomping at the bit to strap on the helmet and pads every week during the fall.
When Waiss got that opportunity to finally do so, he made the most of it, and this new Bellarmine coaching staff that is entering its first season at the helm – led by head coach Jalal Beauchman – knew they had something special.
“I started getting a lot stronger, and with the introduction with the new coaches, especially (Bellarmine director of football operations) coach (Brennan) Ronald, who has believed in me from the start and a lot of connections and telling me that you can play in college,” Waiss said. “I think I just was like, “Yeah, I can do this. I can play at the next level if I want to.’”
Well, Waiss is set to play in college somewhere.
The 6’5” and 225-pound force up front has always been a dominant player. Bellarmine was a run heavy team in previous years – often keeping the ball on the ground 80% of the time – but Waiss still used those time periods to assert his will, particularly as a blocker.
Now, though, Beauchman and his staff have instituted a number of changes that will showcase Waiss’ abilities even more in their college style offense.
“I’m really excited because I know last year I think the scheme just made me primarily a blocker. I was primarily a run blocker, and that’s fun in its own sense,” Waiss said. “As a tight end, I really want to be a hybrid player. I want to get receptions, too, and I’m excited for this new scheme to get me the ball a little bit more often.”
Waiss has added to his frame and grown in every regard once the 2019 campaign – one where he and Bellarmine qualified for the Central Coast Section playoffs – came to a close, putting on 30 pounds along with perfecting his craft as a receiving tight end and making the adjustment on defense from linebacker to the defensive line.
And the recruiting process has heated up in recent weeks.
In early September, Waiss, whose GPA is above a 4.0, boasted one college offer from Puget Sound. Four more schools in Cal Lutheran, Carleton College, Linfield and Pacific Lutheran have all offered since.
“My goal for myself this season is to show what I can do with the ball in my hands and show that I can move around as well, catch the ball because I didn’t get any targets last season, and I think that’s going to be really important for me this year,” Waiss said. “I also want to improve my power as a blocker.
“I’ve gained 30 pounds, so I’m really excited to see what I can do on the field. And I think a team goal for us is just to play faster, play more efficiently, everyone be on the same page, everyone knows what’s happening and not have any miscues.”
Most importantly, Waiss wants to have one final special season with his Bellarmine teammates before the next chapter of their lives begin, with many of them working their way like Waiss to play somewhere collegiately.
“The relationships that I’ve built with these guys in the senior class motivates me because when they’re out there you want to perform for them and you want to succeed for them,” Waiss said. “Of course I will succeed for myself, too. I want to play at the next level and get recruited. That’s my motivation.”
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