BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana receiver Isaac Griffith kept his composure as long as possible Saturday.
It was never going to last.
He listened stoically as safety Ty Smith explained how he ignored the dire warnings from his aquatics management class and his own mother, a former lifeguard, to run back into the water and help pull his best friend out of a life-threatening rip current. He heard receiver Nick Stoner explain how he ran the fastest 500-meter sprint of his life to seek medical help. He heard his parents describe his incredibly speedy recovery as nothing short of miraculous.
After all that, of course the tears started flowing.
"These (three) guys are my brothers, I love them to death," the 19-year-old freshman said, covering his eyes. "I always say that if you can take three warriors into battle, I'll take those three every time."
Without that trio of Indiana students— Smith, Stoner and Mitch McCune — Griffith probably wouldn't have been in the Hoosiers' team room on a crisp, blustery spring afternoon, explaining how grateful he is for a second chance at life.
His parents, Shannon and Kim, probably wouldn't have made the three-hour drive from northeastern Indiana to the Bloomington campus to share a few laughs, shed a few tears and reflect on how their religious faith helped them cope with the near tragedy that Shannon Griffith, Isaac's father and the head coach at Division III Manchester University, said literally put him on his knees.
Saturday was the first time Griffith, his parents and two of the three rescuers sat together to answer questions about what happened that frightening March 17 afternoon and the recovery that has Griffith on the way back to playing football. McCune, who is not a football player and had already spoken to reporters in Florida, did not attend the emotional 30-minute news conference.