It was a jaw-dropping experience when Mercer Island’s Griffin King stepped onto the field at the massive Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 18.
The 17-year-old Mercer Island High School (MIHS) senior continued his football activities when he flew into town to compete in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl for standout high school seniors from across the country. The 6-foot-1, 270-pounder started at left guard for the West team, which lost, 23-20, to the East squad.
King was one of 119 of the nation’s top Class of 2024 prospects, which also included other Washington players Isaiah Cuellar (defensive back) and Adam Loum (wide receiver), both from Glacier Peak High School.
“It was better than I ever imagined, I’m sure as everyone has dreamed of just going to play in an NFL stadium. It was really cool. Definitely something I will not forget,” King said after arriving back home on Dec. 19. “I think I did really well. I didn’t allow any sacks and pressures.”
The Islander said it felt good to hold his own on the field: “It just proves to myself and to my family as well as the Island (that) there’s good talent here.”
King was selected to play in the game after being nominated by a Blue-Grey coach who saw him display his talent at a summer football camp. He was one of 7,000 players who went through the selection process, and the Islander received word in late August that he made the cut.
After arriving in Dallas on the afternoon of Dec. 15, King and his parents spent three more days in the area and their stay culminated with the big game. King rolled through a pair of three-hour practices on Dec. 16-17 and participated in a jersey presentation one night. He said it was a welcoming atmosphere, the talented players were a humble bunch and he made instant friends.
Former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Seneca Wallace led the West coaching staff and gave King the following advice: “There’s a plan for everyone and just follow my dreams. Follow my passions and keep my head down and keep on working, and everything’s just going to play out.”
King played four years on MIHS’s varsity squad and started for three years, splitting his time on offense and defense in the guard, center and tackle positions.
He will next hit the gridiron on the Division III level for Claremont McKenna College in California next season. King said the coaches were nice and honest and noted that he has a good chance of starting his freshman year. On the academics front, King will major in architecture, a field that he was drawn to during his studies at MIHS.
Through his participation in the Islander football program, King said that coaches believed in him and noted that he had potential to make an impact on the gridiron scene. King looks up to Island-bred standouts like Derek Osman and David Kirtman, who began elevating their skills locally and continued to shine on fields elsewhere.
King offered the following advice to kids who have robust football dreams: “Don’t give up on yourself. Stick with what you want to do in life, no matter what it is. If it’s football related, don’t just stay on the Island, kind of explore out and find newer and better competition that you can try to stack yourself against.”