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UCF’s Shaquem Griffin has no regrets sitting in draft “green room” three days

Florida Football Insiders

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Brett Davis- USA Today Sports

It’s arguably the best off the field draft story of 2018. And, it played out in our state Saturday, as UCF’s Shaquem Griffin was drafted in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks and re-united with his twin brother Shaquill.

Griffin was invited to last weekend’s proceedings in Arlington, TX, by the NFL, as one of the 22 players they wanted to be part of the experience on site and eventually, come out on stage, when their name was called. The UCF linebacker/safety was there for the opening night, when he knew he had no realistic shot of being drafted round one. However, there was some belief after his impressive draft build up workouts and interviews that he might go in night two (second-third rounds).

Alas, that did not happen either.

Finally, Saturday afternoon, the former St. Pete Lakewood High School and UCF star, was taken with the 151st overall pick and re-united with his brother, Shaquill, who was drafted by the Seahawks a year earlier.

It’s a tremendous story, and as we wrote Saturday, it’s not some publicity gimmick or charity by Seattle. They have needs on defense and they believe Shaquem’s talents will help him, and may very well also help his brother become a better player in their secondary, too.

Shaquem Griffin appeared on Rich Eisen’s national radio/tv simulcast show Tuesday afternoon and gave more example of his personality, was humorous at times and candid about the whole process:

Particularly interesting was Eisen’s question about sitting in the draft “green room” for three days  “I can definitely say the wait was worth it. It was a rough three days, but I’d definitely wait all over again for opportunity to get out there with my brother.” He continued on whether he regretted sitting there Thursday and Friday, “That’s an experience that a lot of people can’t say they did (sic)… Being a kid watching on TV how it’s done, it definitely different when you are the one sitting inside the green room.”

Clearly, with his disability of an amputated left hand, Griffin became a heart warming inspirational story over the last three months. However, also clearly, he’s demonstrated skill on the football field during a magical UCF 2017 season. And, his speed and physical display at the NFL Scouting Combine also told NFL scouts and personnel guys that he deserves a shot at the NFL level.

The Seahawks have given him that shot.

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UCF Knights

Knights-QB Milton did their part in UCF Friday night romp

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

it was a “points bonanza,” as advertised in Orlando Friday night, and in the end, UCF and it’s leader looked the part of conference champ and playoff contender. This as the Knights cruised to a 56-36 easy win over in state Florida Atlantic.

We wondered if Friday would restart the Heisman Trophy hopes of QB McKenzie Milton and he delivered on a National TV stage big time and early. Milton threw or ran for the Knights first six touchdowns of the game, including this one in the third quarter, where he juked half of the Owls on the field:

The junior from Hawaii finished with 387 yards from scrimmage and is definitely one of best dual threat QBs in America that will continue to garner attention.

FAU hung in the game for awhile, largely based on their star RB Devin Singletary. Singletary, the CUSA Offensive Player of the Year, ran for 131 yards and three touchdowns, as FAU was tied at halftime.

Still, the Knights who haven’t lost a game in 600 days, notched another victory in the nation’s longest win streak. They now have 16 straight games dating back to their December bowl loss in 2016.

And if you think UCF’s squad didn’t have some fun on a Friday night in front of over 44,000 at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, think again. After the 20 point win, it was time to dance:

UCF will get a tougher test from Pitt out of the ACC next week, and then later in October, will play a huge American conference regular season road game at Memphis. The Tigers are arguably the best team in the West division and want to avenge having lost both meetings to UCF in 2017. The Knights won a thrilling double OT Championship Game in Orlando last December to lock in a bid to the Peach Bowl.

That’s where they famously stunned SEC powerhouse Auburn earlier this year on New Year’s day.

Back to the 2018 squad, coach Josh Heupel and staff had to deal with an unexpected bye week after Hurricane Florence cancelled their game at North Carolina last Saturday. Needless to say, they had UCF ready for this one.

And, that usually means Milton was ready to show college football he’s one of the players in the game.

He didn’t disappoint, again, Friday.

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UCF Knights

Will UCF QB Milton kick-start Heisman talk Friday night?

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With the understanding that quarterbacks of powerhouse programs like Tua Tagovailoa, Trace McSorley, and Will Grier will be getting most of the national hype throughout the seaason, in our state we know that UCF QB McKenzie Milton deserves to be consider for the Heisman, too.

The junior signal-caller for the Knights has been a bit victimized by the early part of the season and the schedule. First, Milton did get off to a tremendous start in UCF’s opening win at UConn, where he fired five touchdown passes in basically three quarters during a blowout win.

However, the following week against South Carolina State he was not sharp with a couple of early interceptions and even though UCF won impressively, Milton’s numbers of 243 yards, one touchdown and three picks jumped off the page, as a negative.

He and the Knights were looking to ramp the offense back up last weekend in a game against a Power 5 program on the road in North Carolina. But, as you probably know by now, Hurricane Florence wiped out that game, and it will not be made up.

So, it seems as though Milton’s Heisman hype which began back in the summer, has stalled out.

Well, now comes a Friday night showdown with cross-state rival FAU and something very important: national television exposure on a weeknight. You see, for a lot of the media and in particular Heisman voters, Milton’s games are not going to trump ones for Alabama, Penn State Ohio State, and the other Blue Blood programs that they would rather watch. It’s harsh, but it’s true.

So, this is an opportunity for him to light it up against an Owls defense and then, be seen and remembered for it.

FAU was bombed by Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray in their opening blowout loss in Norman, OK, Labor Day weekend. And, coach Lane Kiffin has to be fearful that more of the same may be coming from the potent Knights offense.

Yes, being a shootout with FAU may be possible because they boast running back Devin “Motor” Singletary, who was the CUSA Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.

So, it may be to Milton’s benefit, if FAU can score some in this game keep it close, and Milton gets a chance to play four full quarters and do it well.

If he’s going to make up ground on Tagovailoa and McSorley in particular, who are on national television almost every game, then that’s what Milton is going to have to take advantage of opportunities present themselves.

Friday night at Spectrum Stadium is one such opportunity for Milton and his Knights teammates.

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UCF Knights

UCF freshman linebacker charged with sexual battery

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The first off-field controversy of the UCF football season has happened with the arrest of freshman linebacker Demetrius Mayes on a sexual battery charge.

The alleged incident took place Saturday night in Mayes UCF campus apartment, where a female accuser says Mayes had inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact with her in his bedroom.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the 18 year old freshman from Miami met the accuser at an off-campus party. A UCF campus police report says she woke up undressed in Mayes bedroom, as he was attempting to have sex with her. The accuser went on to tell authorities that Mayes tried to prevent her from leaving the room.

UCF police chief Carl Metzger released a statement Wednesday:

“The UCF Police Department is committed to a thorough, professional investigation of all criminal incidents reported to us, and we’re dedicated to a culture of care that starts by believing the brave survivors who seek our assistance,” Metzger said. “This survivor’s well-being will continue to be a priority for our department and our university.”

As did UCF first-year head coach Josh Heupel:

“This has no place in our program,” Heupel said.”Demetrius Mayes is suspended from all UCF football activities indefinitely. We are focused on ensuring that we provide compassion and support for everyone outside our program that has been affected by this.”

In the report Mayes told police he met the accuser at an off-campus party and took the woman back to his apartment. Mayes says the victim initially consented to sex and that when she told him “I can’t do this,” he stopped, let her get dressed and unlocked the door.

At least one of Mayes roommates, who is an unidentified UCF football player, told the authorities that they tried to warn him he was making a big mistake taking the woman into his bedroom. Apparently, that roommate and others were banging on Mayes bedroom door trying to break up what was going on.

They told UCF police that the accuser exited the bedroom crying and upset.

Mayes was a star at Miami’s Northwestern High School a year ago, where they won the 6A state championship, but he had not played in the first two UCF games against Uconn and South Carolina State.

The Knights did not play last weekend, because their game with North Carolina was canceled by Hurricane Florence.

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