Control your destinies, Heisman winner Robert Griffin III tells Classroom Champions

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 3:38 PM CDT
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(KWTX) - Copperas Cove native and Heisman Trophy Winner Robert Griffin III offered up words of advice and encouragement to Central Texas students preparing for graduation as the featured speaker of KWTX’s annual Classroom Champions Banquet Tuesday night.

The banquet is an end-of-the-year celebration for high school athletes chosen throughout the year by KWTX for not only their successes in sports but also their achievements in the classroom.

This is the second year in a row RG3 has spent an hour or more talking to the award winners and he said from his home in Orlando, Fla., on the Zoom call he wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to give back the same way he remembers fellow NFL star and Copperas Cove native Charles Tillman doing for him.

“Charles Tillman did come back and that meant the world to me as an eighth grader playing basketball in the gym with Charles Tillman,” Griffin said.

“Tillman at that time wasn’t the biggest NFL player, but he was big to us because he’s where we’re from.”

Griffin talked to the students about growing up in Central Texas.

“Copperas Cove is a small, big town,” he said.

“I think there is something special being a kid from a small town like Copperas Cove where we didn’t have six or seven Division 1 guys on our football team, but we were constantly in the playoffs, and we were blessed enough to go to two state championships while I was there my junior and senior year. "

And little did Griffin know, that would be just the beginning of his success as a football player.

Griffin talked to the students about those highs, including becoming the first Heisman Trophy winner at Baylor University, going second in the NFL draft and winning Rookie of the Year with the Washington Redskins.

But he talked plenty about the adversity he’s faced in life, too, including numerous injuries along the way.

He encouraged the student-athletes not to let anyone control their destinies.

“I have had coaches over the course of my entire career, even starting back in seventh grade, who maybe didn’t believe in me as much as I believed in myself,” he said. “We’ve all had people who didn’t believe in a dream that we have and the only way to overcome that is to go out and put the work in.”

Griffin opened up about his faith and how he turned to God during his first big injury in 2009 when he tore his ACL.

“I came out of that with a better sense of my faith and my relationship with God. Because it’s not just a religion, in my opinion,” he said.

“It’s not just you go to church on Sundays or Mondays or Wednesdays or Saturday and read a couple of bible verses and you say, ‘who ha’ and sing and everything is good. It’s about having a relationship with God.”

The students were able to ask the QB questions.

Lorena senior Corbin Parnell wanted to know how Griffin balanced college academics with athletics.

Corbin has signed to play with Hesston college in Kansas.

“You’re not going to have a lot of free time” Griffin said.

“Try to get your work done early. If it’s due Friday, try to do it Wednesday. I tried to do everything I could so I could still enjoy college and not feel like I was enjoying college at the detriment of my academics.”

Griffin was released this January from the Baltimore Ravens, but says he hasn’t given up on his dream of continuing to play and he’s hoping that road brings him back home.

“I’m still looking to play, still looking to go out and help a team,” he said.

“Hopefully, maybe I can come back to Texas either with the Cowboys or the Texans. That would be awesome. I’m talking to teams here and there. I would say getting some nibbles but not anyone going for a full bite just yet but that’s just part of the process.”

Another bump in the road he says he will face head-on as he encouraged the students to follow his lead when life gets tough.

“You keep pushing through knowing hey the last time I pushed through this we won a Heisman. The last time I pushed through this I won NFL Rookie of the Year. The last time I pushed through this I extended my career five years to eight years.”

The Classroom Champions banquet was sponsored by Texas Best Chevy Dealers.

List of Classroom Champions

Allie Berg Troy

Brooke Ashcraft Robinson

Brylee Smith China Spring

Campbell Burnett Belton

Cody Tindle Parkview

Corbin Parnell Lorena

Ellie Lynch Live Oak

Ellie Ward Reicher

Emma Hering Rosebud-Lott

Erik Knoll Vanguard

Karch Knoll Vanguard

Jake Boozer Reicher

Koby Hollingsworth Axtell

Kory Walker Salado

Kyle Frei Holland

Kylee Jones West

Larson Hoffmeyer Bosqueville

Layla Alexander The Ogburn School

Logan Hare Rogers

Luke Allen Temple

McKenzie Dickey Holland

Nate Callaway Whitney

Ralph Morales Connally

Risien Shahan San Saba

Shy Tatum Gatesville

Sofia Stalker Abbott

Tanner Merenda Crawford

Tanner Rambeau Academy

Taylor Rountree Goldthwaite

Trapper Ensor Bruceville-Eddy

Tyler Geisleman Ellison

Walker Pierce Midway

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