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Johnny Manziel, top QBs find a friend in young Chase Griffin


BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The most interesting person at the Elite 11 quarterback competition this week might not have been one of the participants or one of the coaches or even one of the numerous spectators on the sidelines.

No, the most interesting person at the event might be a 13-year-old from the heart of Texas named Chase Griffin.

"He's been around Johnny (Manziel), he's been around Bryce (Petty), he's been around Braxton Miller, been around Everett Golson, Landry Jones and Logan Thomas. He's been around some guys and impactful athletes," quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. said. "Whether they party with Justin Bieber or lead one of the nation's biggest teams, he's met them and they've embraced him."

Not bad for one of the shortest people on the field, but, hey, what can you expect when a kid says he's your favorite quarterback's favorite quarterback on Twitter.

This week, Griffin was never more than a couple of feet away from Manziel when he was counseling some of the top high school quarterbacks and recruits in the country. He was dropping back to pass alongside Baylor's Petty and Oregon State signal-caller Sean Mannion among others. Were it not for his diminutive height, one could easily mistake him for a coach with his matching clothing and impeccable throwing motion.

There were a lot of big men on Nike's campus this week for the Elite 11 and The Opening but none appeared to be bigger than Griffin.

"He's on a magic carpet ride," Whitfield said. "He's so charismatic and there's such a brightness about him. He's like a puppy with really big feet who loves football."

The Round Rock, Texas native started training with Whitfield almost four years ago in San Diego. The unlikely friendship between the two almost never happened had it not been for a clerical error that listed Griffin as a high school quarterback. Instead, it was the then-10-year-old that showed up and impressed the coach with his affable nature and determination between the lines.

Eventually Griffin asked about tagging along to an Elite 11 competition, offering to do anything from bringing water to campers to serving as a runner for various errands. Whitfield turned the young quarterback down on both counts.

"Then I said, 'we don't have a ball boy, though,'" Whitfield said. "Then his head popped up. He asked his dad. We recorded a video for him to ask Trent Dilfer if he could go, a two-minute deal. I sent it to him and Trent said in all caps to bring him up. Then the kids just adopted him from there."

That specifically includes Manziel, who has turned into a big brother for Griffin. The two have trained alongside each other for all but two weeks over the past two and a half years, and the Cleveland Browns quarterback even extended an invitation to his pro day at Texas A&M. The pair have regular conversations and follow each other on Twitter.

Eventually, Griffin wants to start as a signal-caller at the high school level in Texas before going to a prestigious university. He hasn't been shy in telling Whitfield that he'll eventually be president of the United States one day, but not before he gives it his all trying to make it under center and maybe even follow in the footsteps of his Heisman Trophy-winning friend.

"I think he gives everybody a little perspective," said Whitfield of Griffin. "He's working and hustling all day, asking great questions and taking notes. It really forces others to come back and say, 'If he's doing that at 10, 11, 12, what am I supposed to be doing in my job?'

"I hope I have a couple of Chase's down the road."

For now Whitfield, Manziel and dozens of other top quarterbacks will just have to settle for one.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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