The dream season that the UCF football team recently completed was as unlikely a story as anyone in the country could have imagined. Having finished the season unbeaten, the success propelled the Knights and then head coach, Scott Frost, directly into the national spotlight. Immediately following their improbable win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl, the Knights’ claims of a National Championship continued putting the team in the national news, even weeks after the College Football National Championship Game was won by Alabama.
Fast forward to the weekend of March 3, 2018, where another chapter in the against-all-odds stories that followed UCF all season long was playing out in Indianapolis, Indiana at the NFL Combine.
UCF’s star linebacker, Shaquem Griffin, wowed the football world with a remarkable showing. Anchored by an astonishingly fast 4.38 second 40-yard-dash time, Griffin quickly earned the respect of the many who had doubted him all along. His 40-yard-dash time was the fastest for someone playing his position (linebacker) since records began in 2006. Griffin then turned heads when he bench pressed 225 pounds, 20 times.
Of course, this is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that Griffin is doing all of this without the use of his left hand. A syndrome called Amniotic Band Constriction led to the amputation of his hand when Griffin was just four years old.
Although Griffin himself does not consider his condition a handicap, the amputation was looked upon by many as too big of a hurdle for him to make the leap from collegiate star to the NFL. But no one is going to tell Shaquem Griffin what he can’t do.
It wasn’t until after a successful showing at the Senior Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama that NFL scouts even invited him to participate at the Combine.
As the Combine was wrapping up on Monday, Griffin made the rounds on national radio and television programs to discuss his performance, and more importantly, his rapidly rising draft stock.
Griffin is now considered as high as a third round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. Coincidentally, this is the same round his identical twin brother and former UCF Knight, Shaquill Griffin, was selected in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Shaquill also ran an identical 4.38 second 40-yard dash at last year’s Combine.
If the state of Florida plans to keep the St. Petersburg native in-state yet again, the Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars will have ample opportunities to do so. Each of the three teams will have at least one pick in each of the first three rounds at next month’s draft.
The 2018 NFL Draft will take place April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.