How Does A One-Handed College Football Prospect Get Bigger?

  • Dan Fogarty

Shaquem Griffin is a 16-year-old junior at Tampa’s Lakewood High School, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound safety who’s one of the best players in the city and has offers to play at UMass, Akron, Ball State, Western Kentucky, and Bowling Green (Clemson and Boston College might also be interested).

Like most college football prospects, Griffin has to get bigger — although he has the body of work to support the hype, his body itself is still that of a teenager. There’s an issue, though, with his development in the weight room: Griffin doesn’t have fingers on his left hand, which would theoretically make it hard to do dips, bench presses, and curls. (When he was still a fetus, a strand of his mother’s amniotic sac had come free and wrapped around his wrist, effectively choking off any further development in the hand. He had the fingers removed when he was four years old).

So: how do you work out when you’re a football prospect with only one hand?

The family looked into a clamp-like device that would allow him to do bench presses and curls. Tangie brought home brochures touting devices that ran into the thousands of dollars.

“I will make something for you,’’ said his father, Terry. And he disappeared into the garage, night after night.

Terry emerged from the garage with The Book — a “block of wood the size of a book, wrapped with a black-and-blue striped sock, with another smaller piece of wood nailed into it for stability.” The Book is used by Shaquem at combines, and the sight of him using it to bench press 185 pounds has become somewhat of a spectacle, with other players gathering around and counting out his reps (1!..2!..3!). Here’s video of The Book — and Shaquem Griffin — in action, courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times.

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[Tampa Bay Times]