View Original Notice ? USC punter Ben Griffiths spent bye week getting married
LOS ANGELES — Most of the time, Ben Griffiths can keep his age under the radar in the USC locker room. The punter turned 30 last month, but he feels he can act younger so most of his teammates forget.
Except during the bye weekend, when Griffiths got married to his college sweetheart, former USC lacrosse player Natalie Byrne.
The two rented a local Airbnb and invited some friends and teammates to join them for the ceremony, which they kept low-key, avoiding any additional stress in the middle of football season.
“The beauty of it was that we didn’t actually plan a whole lot, so it wasn’t anything that could really go wrong,” Griffiths said. “So the day went perfect. Fortunate that my wife didn’t want to plan anything, wanted to keep it small.”
Griffiths’ family is in Australia, and with the current travel restrictions that require anyone returning to that country to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel, they were unable to come to the U.S. for the wedding. Griffiths said they might hold a larger ceremony in his home country when restrictions are lifted, and they are planning a road trip honeymoon up the coast sometime after the season is over, depending on whether USC plays in a bowl game.
In the meantime, there’s still football to be played, and a potential professional career to ponder.
Griffiths has already been a professional athlete, playing Australian rules football for eight years before electing to enroll at USC prior to the 2019 season to play college football and aim for an NFL career.
There was a transition period, tweaking his technique from his previous sport and adjusting to a new ball. But the last two seasons he has averaged more than 46 yards per punt, including a 71-yarder this year.
And he’s earned respect in the USC locker room, being voted a team captain prior to this season.
“I was really blown away,” Griffiths said. “I’ve been doing the same thing for the last three years. I hold myself to a high standard and I guess they kind of saw that and (it was) reflected in the voting.”
Griffiths is proud to be working on his degree in psychology after having written off the idea of pursuing higher education earlier in life. He knows the work will pay off when his playing career is over.
“It might sound silly, but it’s a massive life achievement for me,” Griffiths said. “And whenever I leave this place it’s going to be something that I’m really proud of, regardless of what happens next.”
But he still wants to make it in his second professional league. He says he will evaluate his options after this season and see if it’s a good year for punters to go to the NFL, knowing he still has two years of eligibility to fall back on if he wants to return to USC.
“If he’s not a draftable punter, I don’t know who is,” special teams coordinator Sean Snyder said. “As far as what he can do with the football and the control he has, at the end of the day, I find it hard to believe you’re going to find too many better.”
Not everything has gone as planned. The coaches who recruited him to USC have been fired, and there hasn’t been as much winning. But his NFL dreams are alive, and he found his new wife across the Pacific.
“I’d have to say it’s gone pretty well for me,” Griffiths grinned. “If I gave another answer I might be wifeless tomorrow. Yeah, it’s been good.”