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:
— Nate Davis (@ByNateDavis) August 8, 2018
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 WR Gabe Davis will turn pro
Next year’s UCF offense took a big hit Wednesday , but in the long run, the player leaving may help the program with more publicity at the next level.
Star wide receiver Gabriel Davis has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the upcoming NFL draft.
— Gabriel Davis (@DavisGB1) December 4, 2019
Davis is a true “Florida Boy” growing up in Sanford, and playingl ball at Seminole High school. He has been dominant in his time at UCF, has become one of the best wideouts in the state, arguably the best in his conference and one of the more underrated players in the country.
His numbers have improved each season. As a freshman, he had 27 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. As a sophomore, he had 53 catches for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. Then, this season Davis had 72 catches for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Last season Davis finished on the American All-conference second team. This year, however, he finds himself on the first team and will hope the accolades don’t stop there.
Davis has all of the prototypical traits to be an “X” receiver in the NFL. He has the size at 6’3, but could work on his frame, getting up his listed weight at 212 pounds. In the passing league that is the NFL, teams are always looking for someone with big play ability. Davis is just that, averaging 16 yards a catch for his career.
He has the ability to take the top of a defense with his size and speed, which will intrigue scouts. One area of his game he will likely work on in the offseason will be running after the catch.
We all know his ability to kill you downfield, but scouts will also want to see what he can do catching a short pass. With an absolutely stacked class at the position, it will be interesting to see where Davis goes when the draft rolls around.
Already underrated being from an AAC school expect that to continue during draft time, but also expect him to rise to the occasion.
UCF blows out USF- is it the end for Charlie Strong?
It wasn’t an unexpected result, as UCF won for the third straight time in the rivalry matchup with USF, 34 – 7 Friday night in Orlando. The bigger question is: was it the end for third-year Bulls coach Charlie Strong?
First to the game. The Knights got what they needed in the first half, as freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel led them on three scoring drives to build a 21 – 0 lead from which USF never recovered. Gabriel threw two touchdown passes to his favorite target this season, receiver Gabe Davis (above), and the lead grew to 24 – 0 at the half.
The same pattern continued with USF’s offense as has been the case for much of this season. The Bulls mounted a little to nothing offensively throughout the game until finally breaking through, when running back Johnny Ford scored on a fourth-and-goal late in the third quarter. That trimmed the lead to 24 – 7.
However, Backup QB Darriel Mack led the next Knights answer going 82 yards in 8 plays with Mack carrying two yards for UCF’s final TD of the evening and all but, putting the game away.
The win was UCF’s ninth on the season and they await to find out what bowl game the American Conference will slot them in. This is the first time in three years that the Knights have not played in the championship game of the American Conference. They won the previous two defeating the Memphis Tigers both times and ended up playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game each time, as well.
That included their loss in the Fiesta Bowl to LSU a year ago, which stopped their 25 game win streak.
Back to the Bulls, the loss was their fourth straight to end the year and Strong’s team limped to the finish line at 4 – 8. When you combine this season with losing the remaining six games a year ago, that’s 14 losses in the last 18 games played for Strong’s teams. Friday night was also the fifth loss by 27 points or more for USF this season.
So now, we all wait to see if USF Athletic Director Michael Kelly, who was hired last year, will get rid of the former Texas and Louisville coach or give him one final shot to turn it around in 2020?
Strong is reportedly owed at least $5 million for the remaining two years on his five-year deal that he agreed to in December of 2016.