Shaquem Griffin was the feel good story of the 2018 NFL Draft Combine. The NFL keeps discovering new talent every now and then. It is not just team performances that keep football fans fascinated by the stories. The individual stories, where athletes rise from the ground to attain glory is what fans of all types are able to connect at a deeper level with. It is these personal stories of achieving the impossible that has made NFL what it is today.
Shaquem Griffin Overcomes Obstacle
One-handed Central Florida linebacker, Shaquem Griffin, is the newest name in this list – making football more enthralling and captivating. Griffin was the 2016 American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year. He has just become the start of the NFL Scouting combine to which he was not initially invited.
NFL Combine Performance Impresses Scounts
Griffin bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times and recorded 4.38 seconds at the 40-yard dash. The bench press feat is remarkable considering that the 2018 Peach Bowl Defensive Player is one-handed and used a prosthetic hand. And his 40-yard dash is the fastest time by a linebacker at the combine in 15 years.
Remarkable Performance at the NFL Scouting Combine
Before attempting the 225-pound bench press at the NFL draft combine, Griffin had a personal best of 11 reps. According to him, he aimed at completing 6 reps, especially considering the competitive environment and not that his twin brother Shaquill was there to spot him. Not only did he beat his brother’s performance at the last year’s combine, he managed to complete 20 reps. He was just 4 reps short of the best performance at the combine by Ka’Raun White, the wide receiver from West Virginia.
As if this wasn’t great enough for a one-handed linebacker, Griffin ran an impressive 4.38-second 40-yard dash. That is the fastest anyone has seen a linebacker run at a combine since 2003. He ran 4.58 seconds on his second attempt.
Proving People Wrong
When Shaquem was 8 he was kept out of a football game because the opposing coach said that the game was only for people with two hands. His left hand was amputated 4 years earlier because of a medical condition. According to Griffin, this was the moment when he found the inspiration and reason to prove people wrong.
He was born with a painful condition known as amniotic band syndrome that affected his left hand. After the hand was amputated, he continued to play. He competed in football, baseball, and track along with his brother.
NFL Draft Prospects
Initially, Griffin was not invited to the NFL scouting combine. This surprised many. After his stunning performance at the combine, his draft stock has continued to rise. It is now predicted that the Central Florida linebacker is highly likely to be taken in the 3rd to 5th round in the draft. In fact, some players went on to claim that if he doesn’t get drafted within the first 3 rounds, there is something wrong with the system.
Many scouts have agreed that Shaquem is going to leave the combine as late 3rd or early 4th. And he has been touted as a strong special-team player and could get a pass-rushing role and gradually grow into other roles.
Shaquem is 6-foot 1-inch tall and weighs 227 pounds. His top strengthens include instincts, speed, and pass rushing ability. Today, he is considered among the best defenders in the country (despite being one-handed).
Shaquem received football scholarships at the University of Central Florida (UCF) along with his brother. He stayed at UCF throughout his college career and totaled 17 sacks, 30 tackles, and 1 loss. He played as a redshirt freshman for the first two seasons before being promoted to second string player and then demoted to third string player. It was under head coach Scott Frost that he found the opportunity to make his mark. He became the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and then the 2018 Peach Bowl Defensive MVP. The UCF won the national championship during his senior season.
A Dedicated Player
Shaquem once slept at the UCF facility throughout his 2017 summer training camp. He is considered as one of those players who eat, sleep and breathe football. According to him, sleeping at the facility helped him to get the feel of it. Earlier, he used to even sleep in his jersey the night before the games.
He slept the UCF facility for almost the whole training camp of the 2017 season. Griffin made all the arrangements by getting a blow-up mattress, snacks, and drinks so that he didn’t have to go back and forth to his dorm. He claims that he was certain that it would be his last camp at the university and he desired to make the most of it.
Perseverance and Patience
In his letter to the Player’s Tribune, Shaquem has explained how he faced so many challenges throughout his college football career and there were moments when he thought of quitting his passion. The first three years of his college career were the hardest when he spent all the time in the dorm and working for his father. Opportunities kept dodging him and the lowest point came in the summer before his third season when he was sent home while other players (including his brother), stayed at Orlando for the workout. He spent the time towing cars for his dad’s business and cleaning offices at a dealership.
When Griffin returned to UCF for his third season, the team was 0-12 down. This was when Scott Frost became the coach and gave him the opportunity he had been waiting for almost three years. Within the next two seasons, he was part of an undefeated team that went on to become the national champions.
When and if Shaquem Griffin gets drafted, it will add another magical story to the annals of NFL. It will be an NFL story that will inspire others to write even more beautiful and memorable sagas of success and overcoming challenges. All predictions claim that he is going to make it in the NFL draft. And in doing so, he is also going to be the first one-handed player to player in the league.
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