Shaquem Griffin is putting on a show at the NFL Combine. The UCF linebacker had his left hand amputated at the age of four after being born with amniotic band syndrome, but that disability is not slowing down his dreams of playing professional football. He would be the first player with one hand to ever play in the NFL.
Griffin was able to do 20 reps in the bench press while using a prosthetic hand. He said it was the most he had ever done at that weight (225 pounds). Griffin said the most he had even benched during his training sessions was 11 reps. Not surprisingly, Griffin’s uplifting performance was met by a rousing cheer from the NFL Combine crowd in Indianapolis. Watch Griffin’s inspirational effort below:
“Just starting that off, I just felt the energy from everybody,” Griffin told NFL Network. “I mean, my adrenaline was going through the roof and I didn’t feel like I needed to stop. So as soon as I heard I was at 16, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m going for 20.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to change my fitness regimen, I’ve got to grind this out right here.’ It felt amazing to reach that goal.”
Meanwhile Griffi’s twin brother, Shaquill, who was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 3rd round of last year’s NFL Draft, did 17 reps during his combine. Shaquill also has the benefit of both hands.
“So many people are going to have doubts [as to] what I can do,” Griffin told SI.com. “It started at the bench press. Some people think I could do three; some people think I could do five; some people didn’t think I could do the bench press. I went and did the bench press and competed with everyone else and did 20. That’s just one step closer to everything I need to accomplish. There’s going to be a lot more doubters saying what I can’t do, and I think I’m ready to prove them wrong.”
According to NFL Draft experts, Shaquem should hear his name called on day three of the draft. He is currently projected as a 5th or 6th round pick. On March 2, Shaquem wrote a letter to NFL GMs stating his case on why teams should take a chance on him. The letter was posted on The Player’s Tribune.
Griffin had a standout collegiate career at the University of Central Florida and was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in his first year as a starting linebacker in 2016. He led the Knights with 57 solo tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks. He also added one interception and seven pass breakups, which is incredible impressive considering his physical limitations. In 2017, he added 74 tackles, 13.5 tackle for loss, a team-high seven sacks, one interception, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He was also named the Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl MVP.
Griffin was a standout at Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was ranked as a three-star recruit by ESPN and had his pick of several Division I schools including Kentucky, Minnesota, Miami and West Virginia. Griffin was also a standout track athlete, competing in the 4×100 relay, discuss, triple jump and shot put for Lakewood. He received interest for track from LSU, Miami and Purdue.