Shaquem Griffin had to wait until the third day of the NFL draft to hear his name called, but his historic achievement led back to a special connection.
The Central Florida linebacker was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round Saturday, becoming the first one-handed player to be drafted in the modern era. He will play alongside his twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, who was a third-round pick of the team last year and started 11 games at cornerback.
"It was literally like a dream, like I was actually imagining stuff and it just started happening," Griffin said in a conference call with reporters after Saturday's selection. "It was unexplainable. I couldn't ask for anything in the world than to be with my brother."
Griffin had his left hand amputated when he was 4 because of his amniotic band syndrome, a prenatal condition that caused the hand to be underdeveloped.
But that didn't stop him from starring at Central Florida, where he was named the 2016 American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year and also served as a captain for last season's 13-0 team. In two years as a starter, he recorded 166 tackles and 18 1/2 sacks.
Griffin was in attendance for the first day of the draft on Thursday, but he was at home with his family when he received the call from the Seahawks informing him of the pick.
Griffin had a breakout performance at the NFL scouting combine in February, as his 4.38-second 40-yard dash was the best of any linebacker since 2003 and tied for ninth best of any player in attendance. He also posted 20 bench press reps of 225 pounds while using a prosthetic device.