If you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, learn and remember this name: Shaquem Griffin.
Griffin, a senior linebacker for the Central Florida Knights, made waves around the country this weekend after a spectacular showing at the NFL Combine. The 22-year-old logged the fastest recorded time for a linebacker ever in the 40-yard dash by running a 4.38. Just the day before that, Griffin pulled off 20 reps in the 225-pound bench press.
Griffin only received an invite to the combine on Janurary 30th, much later than other participants. Which, at first, seems strange. Griffin certainly has the resume.
The linebacker recorded 44 solo tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles in 2017 after he collected 57 solo tackles, 20.0 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles in 2016.
The 2016 American Conference Defensive Player of the Year was the backbone of UCF’s defense en route to an undefeated season, capped off with a 12-tackle, 1.5-sack game against Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
So it begs the question…what could possibly be the problem with this guy?
Griffin was born with amniotic band syndrome, a disease causing stunted growth in his left hand. When Griffin’s parents found a four-year-old Shaq trying to self-amputate his fingers with a butcher knife because of the pain, a medical amputation was scheduled. Griffin’s lived with one hand ever since, but it never stopped him.
“A lot of people see somebody who has one hand instead of two, and they think it’s different or it doesn’t make sense. ‘Oh, he has one hand – how can you play football?’ Griffin said in a post on The Player’s Tribune. “Well, what if I say, ‘You have two hands, can you play football?’ At the end of the day, you have to show what you can do. You can’t set limits on what you can do, whether you have two hands or 30 hands.”
Shaq Griffin deserves to play in the NFL. And it’s more than likely that he’ll get his chance. Sure, there are a few GMs out there that think of Griffin as a good story and nothing more. These are probably the same GMs who expected Griffin to complete only five or so reps.
Griffin affixed his prosthetic hand to the bar and grinded out 20. That’s the type of player he is, and that’s the type of player he will be at the highest level.
Connor Donahue is the digital editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @conn_donahue.