- By Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Give Shaquem Griffin a challenge, and he meets it head-on. The former University of Central Florida linebacker has been silencing critics for years, and his effort at Saturday’s NFL combine was no exception.
Griffin, who was born with amniotic band syndrome and had his left hand amputated when he was 4 years old, did 20 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press Saturday, ESPN reported.
According to the NFL, Griffin is trying to become the first player with one hand to be drafted during the modern era, ESPN reported.
Griffin used a black prosthetic device that was affixed to his left forearm during the event, The Tampa Bay Times reported. He said the most reps he had completed at that weight had been 11, Sports Illustrated reported. But when he heard that an NFL general manager would be content to see Griffin do just five reps, the St. Petersburg, Florida, native rose to the challenge.
"My goal was six (repetitions),” Griffin told ESPN with a smile. “I think I beat that by a lot. When I first got to training, I did like 11 reps. ... Just being able to do that, that was amazing. Hearing the crowd and having the juices flowing, I felt it ... I didn't know I had it in me, but it came out (Saturday).
“People didn't think I'd be able to do it, and him just saying five (reps), I mean, five to me is just warming up,” Griffin told the Times.
At last year’s combine, Griffin’s twin brother, Shaquill, did 17 reps in the bench press, Sports Illustrated reported. Shaquill Griffin was drafted in the third round by Seattle in 2017.
Some draft experts see Shaquem Griffin as a third-day pick in this year’s NFL draft. The 6-foot-1, 227-pounder prepared for the combine and wrote an open letter to NFL general managers so they could learn his story, the Times reported.
Griffin was a two-year starter at UCF and a first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection in both seasons, ESPN reported. In 2016 he was AAC’s defensive player of the year, collecting 92 tackles and 11.5 sacks. He also forced two fumbles and had an interception.