WACO -- As talk heats up about him being a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, Robert Griffin III knows he can't shy away from the attention.
The numbers that the Baylor quarterback is putting up are so Heisman-like that even he didn't know he had tossed five touchdown passes to five receivers in Saturday's 56-31 win over Rice until a reporter told him -- two days later.
Against Rice, Griffin was an eye-popping 29 of 33 for 338 yards in just three quarters of work. That brings his three-game total to 70 of 82 for 962 with a nation-leading passing efficiency rating of 236.2.
And by the way, Griffin has thrown more touchdown passes (13) than incompletions (12). But he'll never be the person who'll throw his name into the pot as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
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"Some people didn't think we had a legitimate shot at that," Griffin said. "But like I told the team before the season it's not about me being a Heisman candidate, but it's about this team having the ability to have a Heisman contender, because your team is what builds you up in those kind of competitions.
"The guys have done a great job and they want that Heisman. They know I'm the spokesperson for that, and hopefully I will win it for this team."
During the past three seasons, Baylor coach Art Briles instructed the Bears' public relations department to pump the brakes on any talk of Griffin and the Heisman Trophy. Not so this year.
Thus, the Bears have gotten creative in touting Griffin as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Using social media to its fullest, fans can follow Griffin's prowess at BU-RG3.com, on Facebook and Twitter (@RG3forHeisman).
"We didn't want to do anything extravagant like billboards in Times Square," said Heath Nielsen, Baylor's assistant athletic director for communications. "I think we're in a cycle where it's more of what the player proves on the field.
"Because we're not a big, big school -- an Alabama or a Michigan -- we felt we had to do something to get his name out there."
Thus, Baylor has shipped a pair of trading cards to the media featuring Griffin's exploits. One was mailed before the season, and the second one was mailed after the Bears opened the season by upsetting TCU, 50-48.
"The cards are little subtle reminders -- 'hey, keep your eye on the kid in Waco -- he can play ball,'" Nielsen said. "And we always figured if his play merited, if the team was doing well, we'd keep coming with a series of cards.
"Now we're thinking of probably focusing on his academics for Card No. 3, and that should be mailed in the next few weeks. Here's a kid who graduated No. 7 in his high school class, graduated a semester early, showed up at Baylor when he was 17 and enrolled in Baylor and won a national track championship as a 17-year-old, and then graduated from Baylor [with a degree in political science] in three years."
Griffin's exploits are the main reason Baylor is ranked No. 15 in the nation and will take a 3-0 record into Saturday's 2:30 p.m. Big 12 opener at 3-0 Kansas State.
And that conference opener is what Griffin is focused on -- not any type of race for the Heisman Trophy.
"Obviously the media has its favorites all the time -- that's how life is sometimes," Griffin said. "But as far as we're concerned, the first concern is not getting that Heisman.
"That's one of the big-picture things, along with bowl games and conference championships."
The only Baylor players to receive any type of legitimate Heisman Trophy recognition were quarterbacks Larry Isbell and Don Trull. Isbell finished seventh in the Heisman balloting in 1951 and Trull came in fourth in 1963.
Some 48 years later, the 6-2, 220-pound Griffin is all the buzz around Baylor.
"He's a real Heisman candidate and I think he can win it," Bears receiver Kendall Wright said. "We know he can get us the ball even if he's in any kind of trouble, because he just makes plays."
Griffin and Briles came to Baylor in the same season.
Thus, Briles has seen Griffin grow from a quarterback who ran a lot into one who has become more of a solid pocket signal-caller.
"What makes Robert different is his competitive nature, and that's really the thing that I respect about him a whole lot," Briles said. "He's a fierce, fierce competitor.
"And if you played in any sport and there's two guys that are arm-wrestling and they're equal, the one that's more competitive is going to win."
Griffin compares favorably to Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton -- minus all the off-the-field drama. It's a comparison he doesn't shy away from.
"Every quarterback is going to see a little bit of himself in any kind of quarterback," Griffin said. "I'm sure Cam sees a little bit of himself in Tom Brady.
"But once you get to that level it's not about, per se, athletic ability or the ability to throw the ball, because everybody can do that. It's about what's between your ears."
And what's between Griffin's ears is a player who has the killer instinct and the pure ability to pick apart a defense. He also can win games with his quicksilver feet.
Griffin, in addition, will be eligible for next spring's NFL Draft. Or the master's student in communications can come back and play another season at Baylor.
Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.
"Obviously you're going to get hit up by agents telling you you're the greatest thing and you should come out and do this, this and this," Griffin said. "But you just can't worry about that.
"The way I approach it is if they talk to me I'll send them to my parents, and if my parents feel good about it, then they'll work things out from there. But as far as I'm concerned I don't need to be bothered with that stuff, because I've got a team to lead and games to play."
And possibly, a Heisman Trophy to win.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760