John Wall was a highly touted, heavily recruited high school senior making his official visit to Baylor when he first met a freshman quarterback named Robert Griffin III. Nearly four years later, Wall has completed his second season with the Wizards and is ready to welcome the Heisman trophy-winning, colorful-sock-wearing quarterback to his new home town.
Griffin will arrive in Washington with tremendous hype and expectations after the Redskins chose him with the second overall pick in Thursday’s NFL draft. Two years ago, the Wizards drafted Wall first overall and welcomed him to town with a police escort, red carpet and adoring fans waiting outside Verizon Center.
The Redskins have been to the playoffs just four times since winning their last Super Bowl in 1992. Wall also was asked to save a struggling franchise, something that he has yet to do, and understands exactly what Griffin has waiting for him.
“It’s the same thing I kind of went through, but he got more,” Wall said with a grin. “He won a bowl game, won the Heisman trophy. So, it’s a lot he’s got on his shoulders, but I think he’s willing to work hard and he’s always going to keep working on his game, watching film and I think he’s going to get better as a player.”
Wall chose to play for John Calipari at Kentucky but he still remembers his first encounter with Griffin, when according to Wall Griffin said “everything you would say to try to convince somebody to go to school there. We had a good relationship. . . . He’s a very humble guy. He really wouldn’t talk about football. I didn’t know he played football at first when I met him, because he was kind of quiet and shy.”
When asked what advice he would give Griffin about playing in Washington, Wall said: “Just work. That’s one thing I got from Kevin Durant. Keep working hard. Always be the first one in the gym, last to leave and keep working, don’t stop.”
With another high draft pick to join him, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, Wall is excited about the future of sports in the Washington. “It’s great,” Wall said. “It’s great to try to turn the organization around and keep getting better, try to get wins. And one thing is to try to change the organization. I know the pressure they are going to put on [Griffin]. But he’s a good player and I think he’s going to do a lot for the city.”