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Shaquem Griffin proves he belongs at Senior Bowl, plans to do same at Combine

MOBILE, Alabama -- The smile never left Shaquem Griffin's face throughout his week at the 2018 Senior Bowl.

It grew even bigger Tuesday, when Griffin, the one-handed linebacker from Central Florida, landed a coveted invitation to the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. An invitation indicates teams believe a player will be selected in the upcoming draft, something Griffin made look like a foregone conclusion after impressing from start to finish in Mobile.

Griffin did exactly what he'd done throughout his senior season, as he dominated drills and impressed scouts from the Browns and every other NFL team enough to be named the event's practice player of the week.

Griffin's overcome the odds all of his life. The next three months of the pre-draft process will put a big spotlight on what could be one of the draft's most heartwarming storylines.

"I want to be known as a guy who is going to give everything he's got, no matter what it is," Griffin said. "I want to be known as a guy who is going to have a motor and run all over the field. And not just have a motor on the field, but enjoying it while he's doing it.

"I'm never going to look at myself as a guy with a disability or having a handicap, because when you have a handicap you're limited to certain things, and I'm limited in nothing."

Griffin's story became well-documented during a senior season in which he racked up 74 tackles and seven sacks for the undefeated Golden Knights. In Central Florida's two highest profile games, Griffin had two sacks in a dramatic win over Memphis and 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks in a Peach Bowl win over Auburn.

When Griffin's mother was pregnant with Shaquem and his twin brother Shaquill, a fibrous strand of the amniotic membrane wrapped around Shaquem's left wrist. At the age of 4, after dealing with all sorts of pain, Shaquem had what was left of his hand amputated.

Within 24 hours, Griffin was playing outside with his brother.

"I came back in the house my bandage was dirty and full of blood, but it felt better than it used to," Griffin said. "I didn't care about a little blood. I was just happy to play again."

That same feeling returned during Griffin's junior season after two years of toiling on special teams as a backup safety. Central Florida's new coaching staff, led by former Browns defensive back Scott Frost, saw an opportunity for Griffin to thrive as an outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme.

Griffin didn't let the opportunity pass, and he doesn't believe he'd need to land with a team that runs a 3-4 defense in order to do the same in the NFL.

"As long as it's a defense I can make tackles in, I'll fit right in," Griffin said. "As long as I'm going fast and making plays, they're going to forget how many hands I have."

When Griffin lands in the NFL, he'll join Shaquill, who left Central Florida as a junior and was drafted by the Seahawks in last year's third round. He started 11 games and is poised to be a key cog in Seattle's defense for years to come.

Shaquem has carved his own unique path to this point, but credits his brother for setting a "standard" he plans to uphold.

"It's been emotional. I can definitely say that," Griffin said. "Thinking about where I came from to where I'm at now, to win games and win the conference championship, a lot of times it was emotional for me. A lot of times I cried. Tears of joy, obviously. It's been an emotional ride for me, It's been a great one and I've enjoyed every single moment of it."

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