Trey and Taryn Griffey grew up in baseball royalty. Their grandfather is Ken Griffey and their father is Ken Griffey Jr., two of the most well-known, respected names in Major League Baseball.
Both of the youngsters grew up on baseball diamonds, but their college careers will be spent on the gridiron and in the gymnasium. And both picked the University of Arizona for their college experience – despite offers from major college programs around the country.
Trey has already spent a redshirt season with the Wildcats’ football program as he works to get into the starting line-up as a wide receiver. He has the credentials to set expectations high. He set school single-season records at Dr. Phillips High School in Florida by pulling in 74 passes for 974 yards after transferring in to the school for his senior year.
Listed as just a three-star prospect, he nonetheless had offers from schools like Michigan State in the Big Ten and Washington State in the Pac-12. He had the speed and agility to also play safety and return kicks in high school.
But he picked Arizona, and soon his little sister will be joining him in Tucson.
In May, Taryn verbally committed to play for the Wildcats’ women’s basketball team after she wraps up her high-school career at Dr. Phillips this season. Rated as the No. 45 prospect by ESPN’s HoopGurlz, she has to be considered the top catch in the Class of 2014.
The speedy, athletic point guard averaged 16 points and five assists – while also pulling down seven rebounds a game – during her sophomore year, when she was named the Florida 8A Player of the Year.
Her high-school team at Dr. Phillips has won three straight state championships and, with her back at the point, is favored to add another this year.
And, despite the fact that an ACL injury caused her to miss her entire junior year, some of the top major-college programs were at her doorstep with scholarship offers in hand.
But she picked Arizona, a program that has been sputtering in a major rebuilding effort since hall-of-fame coach Joan Bonvicini was fired after the 2007-08 season. Her replacement, Niya Butts, took the program to a 20-win season in 2011, but the remainder of the results have been mediocre to downright dismal. Arizona hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in almost 10 years.
And last season certainly wasn’t the kind that would impress a potential recruit. The Cats finished 12-18 and lost 13 of their final 14 games.
On the other hand, Trey Griffey may have landed in the Old Pueblo at just the right time. Rich Rodriguez took over a football program, also trying to revive after many years of stagnation, and posted an 8-5 record and a bowl win in his first season.
But for both of the next generation of Griffeys, the decision to play at Arizona was more about the school and the connection they made with the community and the coaching staff – although Taryn admits that her brother being there already was a strong draw. She says, though, that she sees the decision to play for a rebuilding program as an opportunity to forge a legacy at the school.
She’s also there for the academics, she points out. Taryn carries a 3.9 GPA.
The irony, of course, is that the sport she has chosen is not softball, which would best suit the family heritage. And her brother, according to one urban folk tale, had a contract with the Seattle Mariners waiting for him almost from the day he was born.
Their father played 22 years in the majors, a good portion of that with the Seattle Mariners, where the Griffey name is synonymous with the city. Last month he became just the seventh player to be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame – which Trey had to miss because he was playing football (the team had a scrimmage on the same day).
So it will be a little more interesting for Trey when Arizona opens its Pac-12 schedule Sept. 28 against the University of Washington. The game will be played in Seattle.