UCF could be close to landing two more Class of 2013 recruits from the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.
St. Petersburg Lakewood defensive backs Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin were two of several prospects from Tampa Bay to visit UCF on Tuesday. The twin brothers enjoyed themselves so much that they will return to the school on Friday with their mother so she can "get on the same page" as her sons.
“UCF can be our top choice,” Shaquem said. “The campus is amazing and we really like what we see. We’ve talked to a lot of their coaches, the trainers. We looked around the school, weight room and it’s amazing being in that environment … Our brother came with us, so we plan on bringing our mom up Friday.”
If things go well on the return trip, the brothers could end up committing to the Knights.
“It could be something like that,” Shaquill said. “That’s something ... we have to sit down with the family and talk about that.”
Further adding to the notion that the two might be committing to UCF this week is the timetable Shaquem set for a decision.
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be coming soon,” he said.
UCF seemed to make an impression on the brothers almost immediately upon their arrival. They entered head coach George O’Leary’s office, which is when he said UCF was extending scholarship offers to both of them.
“I know offers are coming in, like Marshall and Cincinnati, but when I came to UCF, it shocked me as soon as we got on the campus, talked to the coaches a little bit and [O’Leary] said that we have two scholarships on the table already,” Shaquill said.
O’Leary told them that he would not accept one player without the other.
Right then, UCF became a contender for the Griffins.
Shaquill Griffin (6-2, 190) holds nearly 20 scholarship offers and is ranked three-stars by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com. He is the more highly-touted of the duo and has maintained that he and his brother be a package deal for colleges.
“We came up with the package deal when we started getting offers,” Shaquill said. “I like the package deal. A lot of schools just want me, but I know what I’m standing for. I know what I’m here for. I’d rather be with my brother than without my brother. Some college, I actually turned down because they didn’t want the package deal. I’m sticking with it.”
Schools that Shaquill turned down included Florida, Florida State and Ole Miss.
Shaquem Griffin (6-1, 185) is ranked two stars by Rivals and is unranked by 247Sports, but holds 13 offers.
Shaquem had his left hand amputated when he was four-years old — the same age the brothers began playing football together — because of a rare birth defect. The Tampa Bay Times did a story on the subject in April and the article can be read here.
The defect may have deterred some schools from offering Shaquem along with his brother, but it has not impacted his performance on the field.
Together, the Griffins form a suffocating defensive backfield tandem and create headaches for opposing offenses.
“If they’re throwing the ball, there’s no way the receiver can get to it,” Shaquem said. “Either I’m making the hit or he’s catching the ball, or he’s making the hit and I’m catching the ball. It’s that chemistry that we have.”
Shaquem said he’s the grittier of the two, while his brother his more of a finesse player.
Shaquill agrees and said he couldn’t imagine playing without his brother.
“It’d be kind of awkward without him being there, so we’re going to continue leaning on each other from now on,” Shaquill said.
If mom is impressed with UCF on Friday and if the duo does decide to commit to the Knights, UCF would be landing its 11th and 12th commitments of the 2013 recruiting class.
The Griffins played on the Team Tampa 7-on-7 squad with current UCF commits Pete DiNovo (Tarpon Springs East Lake quarterback ) and Richard Benjamin (Tampa Bay Tech wide receiver) and said that could also factor into their decision.
Both DiNovo and Benjamin visited UCF on Tuesday, along with a group of other players from the Tampa area that included Tampa Jesuit receiver (and Miami commit) Travis Johnson, 2014 East Lake receiver Artavis Scott, 2014 East Lake offensive tackle Mason Cole, and 2014 Clearwater Countryside cornerback Michael Johnson, who was offered by the Knights.
Brendan Sonnone is the Sentinel's recruiting correspondent and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Brendan on Twitter at @BSonnone or Facebook at Brendan Sonnone or at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times