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Former Douglas star in Sun Bowl for UCLA

by Chuck Smock, staff writer

Friday will be a big day for Chris Griffith and his UCLA football teammates.

That’s the day the former Douglas High star and the rest of the Bruins will be in El Paso, Texas, to take on the Wisconsin Badgers in the Sun Bowl.

“We’re all really excited,” said Griffith, UCLA’s place kicker, in a phone interview last week. “It’s a nationally televised game and we’re here to play football. The games are the best. The more the merrier.”

Kickoff for the game between the Bruins (6-5) and the Badgers (8-4) is set for 11 a.m. Pacific time. The Sun Bowl will be televised by CBS.

UCLA was ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation this season before tough road losses at Oregon, Cal and Oregon State in a four-game stretch ended the Bruins hopes for BCS consideration.

Still, when the early speculation about bowl bids started, UCLA was mentioned as a possible candidate for one of the two Hawaii bowls. Griffith insists he and his teammates aren’t disappointed about the berth in the Sun Bowl, which offers a payout of $1 million -$250,000 more than either the O’ahu Bowl or the Aloha Bowl.

“Coach (Bob Toledo) calls it a business trip,” Griffith said. “We’re going to go there and take care of business.”

Which is what Griffith did throughout his redshirt sophomore season. The former Douglas quarterback and kicker made nine of 12 field goal attempts and 42 of 44 extra point attempts this year. His 69 points place him second on the UCLA scoring list this season.

For his efforts, Griffith received all-Pac-10 second-team honors.

Last season, is his first campaign as UCLA’s starting kicker, Griffith made 13 of 18 field goals and all 25 PATs to lead the Bruins with 64 points.

“I was excited when I heard about the all-league honors,” he said. “Last year, I had a better year, but didn’t get recognized. Now, my name is out there and it gives me more motivation to keep working hard.”

According the UCLA’s athletics Web site, Griffith’s 22 field goals rank him No. 9 on UCLA’s career list, just two behind No. 7 Norm Johnson and Efren Herrera (24 each). His percentage of 73.3 ranks third among players in the Top 10, trailing only John Lee (85 percent) and Alfredo Velasco (78.5 percent).

With two more years of football eligibility remaining, Griffith will have the opportunity to move into the top five on the UCLA career lists for field goals and total points if he can continue to post similar numbers to his last two seasons.

And if he is able to put together four impressive years for the Bruins, there’s always the chance he could go from kicking the football on Saturdays to kicking on Sundays.

“My athletic goal is to go on to the next level,” he said. “But I don’t like to talk about it because it’s so far away.

“I’m not here to go to the NFL, I’m here to get an education. If I do go to the NFL, it’s even better.”

Griffith recently changed his major from sociology to history. Last summer, he worked a six-week internship with Merrill-Lynch in the company’s fixed income and equity office which deals with big-business investments.

Pacific-10 Conference

Conference All Games

W L PF PA W L PF PA

Oregon St. 7 1 275 161 10 1 359 203

Washington 7 1 258 183 10 1 353 246

Oregon 7 1 215 172 9 2 316 219

Stanford 4 4 193 210 5 6 261 294

UCLA 3 5 251 282 6 5 333 347

Arizona St. 3 5 229 235 6 5 296 272

Arizona 3 5 203 204 5 6 254 237

Southern Cal 2 6 208 256 5 7 309 337

Washington St. 2 6 167 260 4 7 281 354

California 2 6 204 240 3 8 246 295

UCLA (6-5)

35 Alabama 24

24 Fresno St. 21

23 Michigan 20

10 at Oregon 29

38 Arizona St. 31

38 atCalifornia,OT 46

38 Oregon St. 44

27 at Arizona 24

37 Stanford 35

28 at Washington 35

35 Southern Cal 38