Editor’s note: Article includes quotes from the late coach Bell.
The 1974 Eufaula graduate Rusty Griffis played with great intensity. The 6’ 6” 230 lb. was so athletic. He played fullback, cornerback and any position coach Bell assigned him. At the end of his senior year, Griffis was recruited by Oklahoma,Oklahoma State, Tulsa and Northeastern State Universities. Griffis chose Oklahoma.
When Barry Switzer came to Eufaula to see Griffis and the Eufaula football team practice, Switzer stated, “If I can just put some meat on his bones, I’m gonna have a heck of a football player,” legendary Eufaula Head Coach Paul Bell recalled.
“Coach Bell had a huge impact on my life. He taught me to expect more from myself, be disciplined, prompt, on time and do the right things in life,” said former Oklahoma football player Rusty Griffis.
At Eufaula and Oklahoma Griffis played and competed with Leroy and Dewey Selmon and caught a large amount of passes from J.C.Watts at Eufaula.
“Rusty played full blast, wide open every down. He sacrificed his body to make a play. He was a very intelli- gent athlete. He trained all the time and was also a great basketball player. Nothing intimidated Rusty. The bigger and tougher the opponent, the better he liked it,” Bell said.
Griffis was recruited by the University of Oklahoma in 1974. The Sooners red-shirted Griffis upon arriving in Norman. Griffis joined his fellow teammates Leroy, Dewey Selmon and eventually J.C. Watts.
“Not just my fellow teammates from Eufaula but all of them gave me encouragement. That was nearly 40 years ago and we still stay in touch with each other today,” Griffis said.
While at Oklahoma, Griffis played defensive end and cornerback. Griffis was a part of two National Championships, three Big 8 Conference Championships, two Orange Bowl Championships and a Fiesta Bowl Championship.
“Coach Bell gave me the belief and faith that I could do anything. My advice for the present Ironhead football team: give 100% work effort. You might not be the most talented but if you work hard you can accomplish goals that were just a dream to you before. Be dedicated to yourself and teammates,” said Griffis.