By Gabriel Stovall
“He is the impact,” Griffin said.
Quite the selfless statement from the 6-foot-2 Kentucky commit who’s having quite the season himself. In addition to his lockdown play at the cornerback position, Griffin’s snagged 34 balls for 618 yards and four touchdowns on offense.
The four-star prospect has been quarterback Zerrick Cooper’s go-to guy and has carved out a reputation for being equal parts explosive, no matter where he lines up on the field.
But as far as Griffin is concerned, it’s all about Mosley.
“So many words I can say about this guy,” Griffin continued. “I’ve seen him last football season, times when we were both hurt or injured, and coaches had to tell us to sit down and don’t go nowhere. They had to put him in one spot because we wanted to work and get better.”
It’s that level of drive that adds stature to Mosley’s generously listed 5-foot-9, 175 pound frame — he may actually be closer to 5-foot-7.
Physical measurables are not the way to quantify the kind of athlete Mosley is when he gets the handoff in the backfield.
“His work ethic is amazing,” Mosley said. “It’s incredible. It’s unbelievable.”
And Jonesboro coach Tim Floyd will vouch for those superlatives.
“As far as players that have impressed me this year, I’d have to start with Montralius on the field,” Floyd said. “I think he’s taken his game up to another level, which we always knew he had it in him. It’s just now coming out.”
According to Floyd, it was last year’s Locust Grove play-in game — the second straight time the Cardinals would lose in dramatic fashion to the Henry County school with a trip to the postseason on the line — that served as Mosley’s breakout performance. But as Jonesboro picked up the pieces to last year’s shattered playoff dreams, one particular shard glimmered brightly.
“Montralius had something like 150 or 170 yards before having to come out at the beginning of the fourth quarter,” Floyd said. “But after that game, everybody got excited thinking about the things he could go if he were able to get back the next year.”
All Mosley’s done this season is truck his way to 736 yards — 122.6 yards per game — and 10 touchdowns in helping the Cardinals (5-1, 3-1) to a No. 9 Class AAAA ranking ahead of a pivotal Region 4-AAAA showdown at Spalding (6-0, 4-0) Friday.
But ask Griffin, and he’ll go back even further than last year against Locust Grove to let you know the first glimmer of greatness he saw in his teammate.
“It’s really been showing since I saw him in eighth grade year in the (Clayton) county all-star game, and when I lost to him in the (middle school) playoffs and he scored six touchdowns,” Griffin said.
Back then Mosley was playing at Pointe South Middle while Griffin was starring at Mundy’s Mill Middle. And Griffin will admit that back then he was impressed with, but not fond of, his now-brother.
“Nah, I didn’t like him too much at that point,” he said, drawing a hearty laugh from Mosley.
But the cohesion between the two showed up immediately upon their stepping foot onto Jonesboro’s campus, and has blossomed ever since.
“When I met him, we just jumped off and I know he’d be something special,” Griffin said. “He’s my brother. He’s my best friend and that bond has meant so much to me. It honestly shows when we put it all together on the field.”
Mosley agrees. Funny that for both players’ considerable football talent, it’s the non-football stuff that seems to drive their kindred spirits.
“I have the utmost respect for all our coaching staff and players,” Mosley said. “But really, Jordan’s really been that one that’s been there for me. I’ve really been through a lot, especially this offseason, and he would call me every day just to make sure I’m straight. So to hear him say that makes me want to work harder and be better than what I am already.”
To be sure, this kind of camaraderie has been sort of a continual thread found throughout the Jonesboro squad this season — something that Floyd says he’s had “in pockets” during his six-year tenure at the school, but never to the degree of what he’s seen so far this year.
“I think this group most definitely is a closer bunch,” he said. “We’ve had guys more this year included in that closeness. As a matter of fact, we talked about some of the things they need to do to be successful, and one of those things is they got together as a team and came up with L.O.B.”
That acronym stands for “Love Our Brothers,” and if you follow any of the Jonesboro players or coaches on Twitter, you’ll see those three letters somewhere in their Twitter handles.
Floyd, Mosley and Griffin all say the ultra unity all began during their first huddle meeting night at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer camp after a particularly bad morning and afternoon on the football field.
“We weren’t playing Jonesboro football when we first got out there,” Mosley said. “It was for ‘I’ and not for ‘us.'”
All of that changed in the night session when the team stripped off the pads, helmets and tough-guy football player exterior and bore out their souls to one another.
“That night, the guys really opened up with some really personal stuff with each other,” Floyd said. “And it was like, okay, we’re all going through things, so we’ve got to be there for each other. A lot of stuff going on outside of football, and we still need each other outside of football.”
But the carry-over effect has translated into one of the best starts through six games in Jonesboro history.
“In a game, all of that showed up for us at Sandy Creek,” Mosley said. “Not just us winning that game, but coming even closer and having believe in each other and loving each other. Last year when we would get down, guys would be blaming each other and looking to the next week. But this year it was like, ‘Come on, let’s get back in the game.'”
Mosley calls it the highlight of the season. But Griffin says, not so fast.
“I don’t feel like our highlight is done yet, to be honest,” Griffin said. “We still have so many things we want to accomplish. We know it’s our last year here, and there are so many things we want to do as a brotherhood and a family.”
And when Griffin says family, he means it. So much so that he and his parents often host members of the team at their home for days at a time. Floyd says others on the team like senior offensive lineman Jeff Taylor will do the same.
No wonder why for Griffin and Mosley, the team feels like extended family.
“Leaving my house and coming out here to the field is like a home from another home,” Griffin said. “I’m with (Mosley) and these guys every day, so I can call them my family.”
Come Friday night, the Jonesboro family will converge on Memorial Stadium in Griffin to lock horns with a 6-0 Spalding team that holds pole position in Region 4-AAAA right now. That could all change with a Jonesboro win.
And when game time comes, it won’t matter to Mosley about his stats or Griffin’s stats or who gets the shine or the accolades.
“We just worry about what Jonesboro can do,” he said. “We go out and play to lift up team and not ourselves. We control our own destiny. We focus one game at a time, and we’re not saying ‘Let’s win region,’ although that’s a goal. We’re saying, ‘Let’s just win this game right here.'”