Shaquem Griffin on doing 20 reps: 'Didn't know I had it in me'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin vowed before the NFL scouting combine opened that "something special's coming soon." On Saturday, he began fulfilling that promise.

Griffin, who according to the NFL is attempting to become the first player with one hand to be drafted into the league in the modern era, got a roar from the fans in the bleachers when he put up 20 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press. The reaction was, by far, the loudest any player has received to this point in the open-to-the-public portion of the testing.

His performance was also better than 10 of the offensive linemen who did their bench presses Friday.

"My goal was six [repetitions]," Griffin said with a broad 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]."

He will go through his on-field workout with the rest of the linebackers at the combine Sunday.

Griffin had his left hand amputated at age 4 because of amniotic band syndrome, a congenital condition. He was a late addition to the list of combine invitees, getting his formal invitation on Jan. 30.

He uses a prosthetic on his left arm to attach to the bar when he does weight training, including the bench press.

"I got it my freshman year at UCF, I remember we went to go get it fitted for me,'' Griffin said. "When I started lifting weights, I remember I could barely bench the bar, I mean I'm shaking all over the place, the bar's falling and I'm like, 'I can't lift 45 pounds,' but it just goes to show how much work I put in.''

Griffin was a two-year starter at Central Florida and a first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection in each of those seasons. In 2016 he was the league's defensive player of the year with 92 tackles, 11.5 sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles.

And this past season he closed out his career as the MVP of the Peach Bowl, helping Central Florida defeat Auburn 34-27 and finish with a 13-0 record.

Griffin's twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, is a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks and was a third-round pick in the 2017 draft. Asked if he had outperformed his brother's work in the bench press at last year's combine, Shaquem said, "Oh, I did more than him in the bench. That's one down. I've got a few more to go. We'll see how it goes [Sunday]. ... I think he did like three."

Shaquill Griffin actually did 17 repetitions in the bench press last year, but Shaquem will have a tall order to top his brother's 40-yard dash time. Shaquill Griffin was one of the fastest players at least year's combine, running a 4.38.

Shaquem Griffin measured 6-foot-⅜ and weighed in at 227 pounds when he arrived at the combine. He said he expects to do both linebacker drills and defensive back drills, but said he would do both at his pro day if he is too fatigued to do double duty Sunday.

When Griffin was at the Senior Bowl last month, he worked with both the defensive line and at linebacker in practices. He consistently showed his speed to the ball, and many of the league's personnel evaluators said they believed he could contribute in an NFL defense, especially as a situational pass-rusher.

"I'm planning on doing both linebacker and DB drills," Griffin said. "We're going to see how it goes [Sunday] and how I'm feeling after linebacker drills, see if I can take a break and come back and do DB drills or do DB drills at pro day. Doesn't matter -- I'm going to get it in, though. ... At the Senior Bowl, I played D-line, linebacker and safety.''