ESPN reporter Paula Lavigne was interviewing the Bears head coach of 11 years for an Outside the Lines piece set tentatively to air Jan. 29.
“We’re looking at recruits from the south and what makes them so good,” said Lavigne, who will likely interview coaches at another three or so schools for the piece. “Obviously, this is a school that has had some success.”
DeVoursney, who had five Division I players — Xzavier Dickson (Alabama), Corey Moore (Georgia), Chandler Worthy (Troy), Ty Turner (South Florida) and Nile Daniel (Kentucky) — signed on signing day this year, couldn’t be any happier.
“It’s big for our team, our school and our community to have national exposure like that,” said DeVoursney, who had eight players signed all together off last year’s team and 11 signed the season before. “To be one of those featured on TV just before signing day is big because so many kids from Griffin go to college and the NFL.”
That’s a point not lost on Lavigne.
“We looked at the NFL data bases and where they come from,” Lavigne said.
With 29 players from Griffin who have played in the NFL it didn’t take long for Griffin to surface quickly in their search.
Players on the illustrious list include: Pro Football Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright as well as Jessie Tuggle, Willie Gault, Freddie Gilbert, Charlie Clemons, Randy Baldwin, Morris Stroud, Johnathan Sullivan, Ben Talley, Nic Clemons, Randy Fuller, Omar Ellison, Stacey Driver, Alton Montgomery, Carl Kearney, Stacy Long, Greg McCrary, Ronnie Lowe, Randy Pass, Kenneth Barfield, Andre Hastings, Emmanuel McDaniel, Dwayne Morgan, Jeff Jackson, Elbert Dubenion, John Brewer and currently active players Sherrod Martin, Randy McMichael and Chris Clemons.
While not all of them went to Griffin High — some were born here and moved before high school, while others went to the old Fairmont High — the high majority of them were Griffin High Bears.
Just as impressive are the players on the list who have played for teams in the Super Bowl. The granddaddy of them all is Wright, who played offensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowls V, VI, X, XII and XIII. Stroud, then a wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, was the first Griffinite to play in a Super Bowl when he suited up in Super Bowl IV.
Willie Gault played wide receiver for the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX, while Gilbert played defensive end for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowls XXI and XXII. Fuller holds the rare distinction of being the only player on the list to make it to the Super Bowl with two different teams, playing cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX and Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII.
Joining Fuller on the Atlanta Falcons’ Super Bowl XXXIII team were Talley on the defensive line and Tuggle at linebacker. A year later Charlie Clemons played for the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, while McDaniel is the last Griffinite to make it into the Super Bowl playing cornerback for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
DeVoursney was surprised when he was first contacted for the story.
“Yeah, any time ESPN calls,” he said. “But then I found out what they wanted to do a story on and I wasn’t surprised with all the kids we’ve had who’ve gone on the the NFL from here.”
He said one part of the interview was a little rough for him.
“The toughest part was talking about kids who haven’t had much, but they played football and went on to be a policeman or a fireman,” said DeVoursney. “If it hadn’t have been for football some of them wouldn’t have gotten out of high school or went to college to get a degree.”
The crew spent about two hours setting up for Tuesday’s interview and another three hours shooting footage. They plan to be back to shoot the team working out as well as various points around town in the coming weeks.
“It’s good for the community,” said DeVoursney, who guided the Bears to a school-record 11th consecutive state playoff berth this season in addition to state semifinal round appearances in 2005, 2008 and 2009 and state quarterfinal-round finishes in 2002 and 2004. “It’ll show how the community loves Griffin and the kids grow up wanting to be a Bear and how the community has something to be proud of.”