Blazing Speed Wows Scouts
Last week, Shaquem Griffin promised to deliver a special birthday present to his mother on Sunday during the NFL Scouting Combine.
He wasn’t able to be with her last Tuesday to celebrate and share a slice of cake. So instead, Griffin gave her a piece of football history.
The former UCF linebacker clocked an unofficial 4.38 40-yard dash time at the combine, marking the fastest time by a linebacker since 2003. It is also the third-best time in the combine field so far, narrowly behind wide receivers D.J. Chark (4.34) and Marques Valdez-Scantling (4.37).
The defensive backs, including UCF’s Mike Hughes, will run the 40-yard dash Monday.
“We did not expect a 4.38. It was … ‘Oh my God. Wow,’” said Tangie, Griffin’s mother. “…That is amazing. I said, ‘227 pounds with that type of speed?’ Now that explains why you see him on the edge get in so fast. I mean, there it is. This is why.”
After wowing NFL representatives for the second consecutive day with impressive numbers, Griffin pointed his index finger to the sky, looked directly into the camera and said, ‘Happy birthday, momma.’
After having his left hand amputated as a child, Griffin has spent years proving those who thought he couldn’t compete as an elite football player wrong. His weekend in Indianapolis was no different.
He expected to stun the world — and even family members — at the NFL combine a blazing 40-yard dash time. Griffin prides himself on speed, a skill molded during his elite track background dating back to his high school days in St. Petersburg.
UCF coaches and teammates always said Griffin was one of the fastest guys on the team and that’s saying a lot for a program that billed itself as ‘UCFast’ the past two seasons thanks to speedy Florida athletes on the roster. And Griffin himself always joked about being faster than his identical twin brother, Shaquill Griffin.
Maybe it’s no coincidence that Shaquem matched the 4.38 combine time his twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, posted last year.
Shaquem Griffin’s 4.38-second 40-yard dash time was also a personal best. His previous best was a 4.43.
“Now I’m letting you know I’m the fastest UCF [player at the combine] ever,” Griffin playfully joked to UCF fans on Twitter. “We’re UCFast, but Shaquem is the fastest, not my brother.”
Griffin’s family watched his weekend feats on television from their home in St. Petersburg while an ESPN crew filmed their excited reactions to his groundbreaking combine performance.
He emerged as the media darling and star of the week after posting elite numbers in the 40-yard dash and bench press, where he hit a personal record 20 reps.
His speed and strength drew wide praise from fans, media, NFL representatives, fellow combine participants and NFL players.
Several NFL players, including J.J. Watt, Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman, tweeted their support, with Sherman taking it a step further saying if the NFL doesn’t draft Griffin in the first two days, then the system is broken.
Griffin was projected as a mid- to late-round draft pick, but he considerably helped his case as a third or fourth rounder with a strong showing. Adding to Griffin’s case is the fact that he can compete in multiple positions as a linebacker, safety and special teams contributor. His ability to perform well in front of a camera and unique background story competing as an athlete with one hand also makes Griffin extremely marketable.