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Former UCF star Shaquem Griffin getting noticed in Seahawks camp

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Even though it’s all the way across the country and in the Pacific Northwest, the feel-good story of former UCF star and now Seattle Seahawks rookie Shaquem Griffin continues to gain momentum.

Griffin, who was the American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year last year and helped the UCF Knights go 13-0 and upset Auburn in the Peach Bowl for a perfect season, had already become very easy to root for in the pre-draft process.

This, after the NFL initially did not invite him to their scouting combine, but then reversed course, when public sentiment when his way. Griffin, despite losing his left hand as a small child,  wowed everyone at the combine in Indianapolis and became an inspiration.

In a story with USA Today on Wednesday, Nate Davis spent some time recently at Seahawks training camp and and they are raving about Griffin’s work ethic and play:

Probably the biggest compliment so far is from former Superbowl champion player and current Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Norton told Davis:

“He’s playing surprisingly really good,” Norton Jr. told USA TODAY Sports, clarifying his surprise is a nod to how quickly Griffin has grasped his new assignments.

“I mean, this kid is fast, he’s really smart, he’s really physical, he doesn’t make the same mistake twice, and he shows up every day. He’s for real. We understand that he’s missing a hand — and everybody focuses on that note — but he’s a real football player.

“He’s a joy to coach.”

Of course, it also helps the Seahawks drafted his twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, to play defensive back a year ago. There’s no question it’s helped him get acclimated.

Seattle opens their preseason on Thursday night hosting Indianapolis.

And, make no mistake. Shaquem Griffin has got potential to help the Seahawks in spots and on special teams, and probably soon this season.

UCF Knights

USF and UCF got American Conference 2020 schedules Tuesday

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday afternoon the American Athletic Conference made official is 2020 football dates for opponents for its conference members. And, that means UCF and USF got to look for the first time at their full conference slates and when they are playing whom.

First for the Knights, they learned that they will open year three of coach Josh Heupel’s conference play on Thursday night September 24th at East Carolina. It is one of three stand-alone weeknight(day) games UCF has on their schedule.

The next one will be Friday night October 16th, as UCF travels to play the Memphis Tigers. That’s a team that the Knights defeated for two Conference Championship Game victories in 2017 and 18.

UCF will also play a traditional “War on I-4” game with the rival Bulls on the Friday after Thanksgiving November 27th. This will be the fourth straight year of playing on “Black Friday.”

As for the Knights other part of the league schedule, they will have their AAC home opener with Tulsa on Saturday October 3rd and then, finish the slate with two huge home matchups with Temple Saturday November 14th followed by Cincinnati at Spectrum Stadium the following week.

For the Bulls, who welcome first year coach Jeff Scott in 2020, they will only have two standalone appearances in conference play. Those will be a Friday night home game October 23rd with Tulsa and then, the previously mentioned final rivalry game with UCF on Friday November 27th.

The Bulls first conference game of the season will be at Cincinnati on October 3rd, while the home opener is East Carolina the following week at Raymond James Stadium.

USF has a tough road slate beginning at Temple on October 17th and then, after the Friday night home game with Tulsa, playing at Memphis November 7th and at Houston November 14th.

The conference is playing 2020 with only 11 members, as UConn has departed and gone back to the Big East. This will also be the first time that the AAC doesn’t play a two six team division format and will instead take the top two ranked teams in conference play for it’s December Championship Game.

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Speedy former UCF RB Killins looks to impress at Shrine Bowl

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One-player eager to start showcasing himself Saturday afternoon in the pre-draft process  in St Petersburg is former UCF speedster RB, Adrian Killins.

Killins ,who just finished four years of highlight runs and touchdowns for the the Knights will participate in the East-West Shrine Bowl.

Killins is generously listed at 5’9 and 165 lb. and came UCF without much fanfare from Daytona Mainland High School. However, he had been an explosive player on the football gridiron, and he was also a former two time 3A State 200m track champion before coming to Orlando.

Once at UCF in 2016, Killins immediately showed off his explosiveness and moniker of “fastest player in college football” with a 100-yard kickoff return at ECU and an 87 yard touchdown run at “the Big House” in Ann Arbor against Michigan.

His best season was his sophomore year, when he was named First Team All American Athletic Conference RB, as he rushed for 790 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead UCF. He showed versatility and caught another additional 25 passes for 169 yards.

He also set a UCF record for longest play from scrimmage that still stands, in the UCF regular season win over Memphis, as he took a handoff and the looked like a missle racing down the sideline:

Killins helped the Knights experience their greatest season ever at 13 – 0 with not only a thrilling double-overtime conference title game rematch win over the Tigers, but a New Year’s Day upset of SEC Powerhouse Auburn in the Peach Bowl for the perfect season.

His next two years under Josh Heupel and his new coaching staff were not as spectacular. But, he still he would make the occasional explosive run and finished his career with over 1,700 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.

He did leave a final impression with his 115 yards and 1 TD in the regular season finale with USF.

Now, he knows that with his smaller size, even with blazing speed, he will be challenged to stick on an NFL roster, and another way might be as a kick returner. Killins left UCF with a career 21.8 avg on 47 returns as a Knight.

He will likely need to show that part of his game to help him get a realistic shot at the next level. And, we wait to see if there will be explosive plays from him Saturday.

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