The evolution of Mike Giffin

"He's the best running back in Canada, as simple as that. He's so powerful and fast. I'm just glad I'm too old and I'm not playing anymore and I never have to tackle a guy like that."

-- Ottawa coach Denis Piché, on Queen's Mike Giffin, as told to the Kingston Whig-Standard

The Whig's Claude Scilley came through with a pair of in-depth pieces on Giffin (one before last Saturday's game, one for today's edition) that capture his progress as a player and a person.

Going back to his high school days, Giffin, who broke former Toronto Argonaut Brad Elberg's single-season rushing record on Saturday and became the first Gael to run for 1,000 yards in a season, was known as a big, talented kid, but a bit unfocused. I remember his coaches at Bayridge Secondary in Kingston's west end making him sit out a game for some off-field transgressions; he didn't really square with the image of the studious scholar-athlete, to put it mildly. Even after he buckled down and got his marks up in order to be admitted to Queen's, he was mostly looked at as a fullback in a two-back system, not a featured back.

He came to camp this year about 20 pounds lighter and a whole lot faster, but still, this has come as almost a complete shock. Most Gaels followers would nodded in agreement before the season if you told them Giffin and fellow tailback Marty Gordon would have 1,100 yards combined after seven games, which they do. No one would have expected that almost all of that -- 1,027 and counting -- would have come from "Giff."

Best back in Canada? Based on the numbers, it's probably Bishop's Jamall Lee, who is averaging 9.1 yards per carry to Giffin's 6.1.

(UPDATE: The OUA named Giffin male athlete of the week, but the press release misspelled his last name "Giffen." Honest human error, or a validation of the suspicion there's a bias against the two Eastern Ontario-based OUA football teams?)

(Photo courtesy of Jeff Chan.)

Running roughshod (Claude Scilley, Kingston Whig-Standard, Oct. 13)
Giffin sets Gaels single-season rushing record (Claude Scilley, Kingston Whig-Standard, Oct. 15)
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