It was a dazzling NFL debut for former University of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin when the Seattle Seahawks hosted the Indianapolis Colts Thursday night at CenturyLink Field.

The former Knights’ linebacker recorded a team-high nine tackles and Griffin was able to impress many in his much anticipated first appearance in the National Football League. Griffin was selected in the fifth round (141st overall) of last spring’s NFL Draft.

The Colts ended up defeating the Seahawks 19-17 in the first preseason game for both clubs. The contest was also a must watch, as Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck returned to the field for the first time since Jan. 1st, 2017 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Luck had been out of football commission for nearly 600 days, but looked solid in his return and completed 6-of-9 passes for 64 yards.

For Griffin, it was a long awaited, winding road to be on an NFL field and to prove to naysayers that he has a place on someone’s roster. Griffin recorded six solo tackles and three assisted in his NFL debut.

Griffin was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, and racked up 74 tackles with seven sacks during another productive season in 2017 which saw UCF go undefeated and defeat Auburn 34-27 in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.

Griffin was another key player for the Knights on the defensive side of the ball and despite playing with only one hand, performed well in pre-workouts leading up to the draft. The UCF linebacker wowed NFL scouts with his strength, benching 225 pounds 20 times and had the top 40-time of any linebacker at the NFL combine.

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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