One college football player is defying the odds and is one step closer to his dream of playing in the NFL, despite a significant physical disadvantage. University of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin - who plays at the college level with an amputated left hand - has received an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine.
There was widespread speculation that Griffin wouldn't be present at the combine when he said last week at the Senior Bowl, an All-Star exhibition football game, that he still hadn't been invited, sending everyone in the college football world into a frenzy. The NFL frequently waits until the last minute to send prospects an invite to the event, so there's no evidence Griffin was slighted due to his disability.
“I called right after our bowl game and tried to see if I was invited,” Griffin said weeks before learning the exciting news. “But the good thing is it wasn’t a no. It wasn’t a yes. But I’m in the middle and all I can do is finish my job here, work as hard as possible and hopefully they give me a shot.”
Griffin, whose left hand was deformed by a birth defect, could be the first player with only one hand ever to be drafted into the NFL. His superior play at the collegiate level suggests he has an excellent chance to reach this goal. A two-time first-team All-American Athletic Conference defender, Griffin would likely excel as a special teams player, or weakside linebacker, at the NFL level, according to NFL scouts . He's undersized as a linebacker at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, which could hurt his draft value. Still, it's very likely a team selects him in the later rounds of the draft, providing he excels at the combine.
Griffin will have the opportunity to exclusively interview with NFL teams, and compete in physical testing that includes the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, various agility drills and bench press. He'll use a prosthetic on his left wrist while performing the bench press.
The 22-year-old recorded 74 tackles, seven sacks, and one interception in 13 games for UCF this season. Fun fact: Shaquem's twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, already plays in the NFL as a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, so football is obviously in his blood.
The NFL Scouting Combine will begin February 27 in Indianapolis, and will be followed by the NFL Draft, which is scheduled for April 26-28 in Texas.
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