St. Petersburg, FL — In 2012, I noticed two recruits who possessed virtually the same height, weight, hometown and nearly the exact same name – Shaq Griffin. As it turns out Shaquill and Shaquem are identical twins who both have a knack for football and decided to add the University of Central Florida to their long list of similarities.
I quickly learned that Shaquem only had one hand and he’d changed positions from safety to linebacker. I am unsure if the position change was connected to his – for lack of a better term – disability, but whatever the reason – he was reassigned. His name popped up again this morning (11/24/16) when I found out he was 5th on the sack leaders list. So far this season he’s racked up 11 sacks and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, because ever since I learned about Shaquem he demanded attention.
Rising to the occasion
On October 29th the UCF Knights faced off against Tom Herman’s 18th ranked Houston Cougars, a talent rich team with a head coach who’s recently been hired by the Texas Longhorns to replace Charlie Strong. And Shaquem managed to muster up 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception. H-town may have won the game, but Shaq definitely made a statement and I think it’s safe to say NFL scouts heard him loud and clear.
Shaquem reminds me of Jim Abbott, the pitcher who was born without a right hand, but still managed to win a gold medal pitching for team USA in the 1988 Olympics. And then went on to have a 10 year career in the major league baseball, playing for four different teams, including the New York Yankees, where his career culminated with a no hitter against the Cleveland Indians 1993.
Athletes like Shaquem and Jim serve as a valuable reminder to us all that you never know what you’re capable of once you’re willing to accept the fact that impossible is nothing, excuses hold you back and believing in yourself can take you places you never could of imagined.
I don’t just find inspiration in Shaquem Griffin, I think I also just found my new favorite football player! Go Knights!
You can follow Shaquem on Twitter
ESPN has an article about the twins if you’d like to see their picture and read a bit more about the identical duo