We’ve been privy living in Florida to one of the great college football and now, potentially, NFL Draft stories of the past few years with LB Shaquem Griffin of UCF. Now, the NFL and fans all over the country are getting more familiar with him and his chances starting with the Senior Bowl this week.
Griffin, who was one of the leaders of the Knights unbeaten 2017 season, already showed on the field at the Peach Bowl against Auburn, that he belongs in the conversation for playing at the next level. He repeatedly created problems for QB Jarett Stidham and the Tigers offense (above) with his ability to beat pass blockers for pressure and sacks. And, he showed that he could stay with backs out of the backfield, too.
The best part of the story is that Griffin, who’s twin brother Shaquill was drafted in the third round by the Seahawks and saw significant playing time last year, had to have his left hand amputated at age four due to rare genetic condition.
And some are doubting what he can do, because of that. They are wrong to doubt.
Get ready to be impressed with Griffin, not only from his game tape, but with how he handles himself, like in this interview after Tuesday’s initial practice the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL.
The NFL Network crew covering the practices/drills wanted to discuss several subjects about his future with him.
“Make sure you stay tuned in. I got a surprise for you.”
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 24, 2018
Love the answer on not being invited to the NFL Combine next month, and critics doubting him, etc.: “I got a surprise for you.”
Also, you have to love the humility that he shows, even when there are critics.
Critics who like to gloss over the fact that Griffin tallied 100 solo tackles and 18.5 sacks his last two seasons with the Knights.
And, as for being able to play at the next level? Analysts Charles Davis, who’s worked NFL Games for Fox for over 10 years, and Mike Mayock, who is the NFL Network’s top draft analyst and also a TV and radio game analyst every week in the league, both sung Griffin’s praises repeatedly on their broadcast Tuesday.
Mayock at one point laid out the Griffin can absolutely be on the roster in a multi-faceted role of playing edge rushing linebacker and maybe some safety, which he’s done at UCF, but also as a quality special teams player.
We will also see, if the NFL changes its mind and sends him a combine invite. Even if they don’t, every team in the league is there with him this week in Mobile, and that’s good enough in the interview and fact finding process , too.
USF and UCF got American Conference 2020 schedules Tuesday
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.
— American Football (@American_FB) February 18, 2020
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.
Speedy former UCF RB Killins looks to impress at Shrine Bowl
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.
— East-West Shrine Bowl (@ShrineBowl) December 2, 2019
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:
Longest run in @UCF_Football history ✔️
Longest run in @American_FB history ✔️
2nd-longest in NCAA this year ✔️
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) October 1, 2017
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.