Linebacker Shaquem Griffin is quickly becoming one of the most popular prospects in the 2018 NFL draft.
The 6-foot-1, 227 pound 22-year-old Griffin is projected to be a fifth- or sixth-round pick and his speed, pass rushing ability and instincts are considered some of his top strengths, according to NFL.com.
He was also the subject of an SI TV documentary that provided an inside look at his journey to UCF, where he became one of the nation's top defenders.
Here are some facts to know about Griffin as he gets ready to make the jump to the NFL.
He lost his left hand due to a prenatal condition
Griffin had his left hand amputated when he was four because while in the womb, a band had wrapped around his left wrist and prevented the hand from developing, causing him to have severe pain in the hand, particularly when he slept, according to a Sports Illustrated story from Andy Staples.
When Tangie Griffin was pregnant, an ultrasound revealed that a fibrous strand of the amniotic membrane had wrapped around Shaquem's left wrist. If left alone, the band would keep his left hand from developing. Doctors could try to move the band, but if they did, the band might wrap around the neck of one of the twins. "I had a choice to say, 'Let's try it and pray everything is O.K.,' " Tangie says. "But in my mind, that is not an option at all." So Tangie and her husband, Terry, discussed how they'd parent a son with a malformed left hand or no left hand at all. Their conclusion? Treat him no differently than their other children. Never let him consider his condition a hindrance.
For the first four years of Shaquem's life, any jolt to his left hand brought waves of pain. The night he banged the bunk bed frame, Shaquem had enough. So had his mother. A nurse, Tangie called in a favor from a doctor she knew. He said he could get Shaquem on the schedule within the next month.No, Tangie told him. Tomorrow. The next day, after an operation, instead of feeling like something was missing, Shaquem felt relief.
According to Staples, Griffin ran to his kitchen the night before he had his hand amputated and grabbed a knife to cut it off himself but his mother stopped him.
He was the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016
Griffin was an elite linebacker during his five years at UCF and made the All-AAC first team in each of his last two seasons when he converted to linebacker from safety. His junior year he had 92 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks, earning him the conference's top honor for a defensive player.
His senior season he once again made first team All-AAC and he was named Defensive MVP of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, when he had a season-high 12 tackles, with 3.5 coming for a loss along with 1.5 sacks to help the Knights complete their 13-0 "National Championship" season.
He was featured on SI TV based off Andy Staples’s profile of the inspirational UCF linebacker.Start your seven-day free trial of SI TV now on Amazon Channels.
He was amazing at the NFL Combine
Griffin did not get invited to the combine until the week of the Senior Bowl after initially being snubbed. When it was time to participate, Griffin put on a show.
He started by doing 20 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press with a prosthetic hand even though he had never done more than 11 reps before that try.
The next day, Griffin ran the fastest 40-yard dash for a linebacker since 2003 when he completed his first attempt in 4.38 seconds.
He has a twin brother who plays on the Seahawks
Defensive back Shaquill Griffin was a third-round pick for Seattle in 2017 and started in 11 games last season. Shaquill is 60 seconds older than Shaquem and also spent his college career at UCF. Unlike Shaquem, Shaquill was not redshirted, which allowed him to leave a season earlier.
In 2016, the one year the brothers both started for UCF, Shaquill had four interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and 49 tackles to help hold down the defense and give Shaquem, the conference's defensive player of the year that season, some protection in the secondary.
He slept at the UCF facility during summer camp in 2017
If you want a player that eats, sleeps and breathes football, Shaquem Griffin is one of those guys. In a letter he wrote for The Players' Tribune, he explained that during his last summer training camp with the Knights, he decided to sleep at the facility to "get the full experience."
I don’t sleep in my jersey the night before games anymore. But I did sleep at the football facility for basically the whole preseason camp this last season. I went out and bought a blow-up mattress and a comforter, and then I went to Publix and stocked up on drinks and snacks and stuff so I had everything I needed. And instead of going back and forth to my dorm during camp, I slept at the football facility and lifted weights and watched extra film at night.
I just knew it was going to be my last camp at UCF, so I wanted to get the full experience, you know?
I just think that as guys progress through their football careers, they start thinking about the game differently. They start thinking about getting their college paid for, or making it to the NFL so they can take care of their families. They start looking at it as a job — and they should, because to excel at the highest levels, you have to take the game seriously. It’s a big responsibility.