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January 27, 2013UCF commit Shaquem Griffin is aiming to fill some pretty big shoes.
The prospect from St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood has his eyes set on taking over for Kemal Ishmael at the free safety position.
"I'm actually going to have the same number as Kemal, No. 18," Griffin said. "That's the goal. I want to be the starter."
Ishamel, the 2012 Conference USA Player of the Year, grabbed the starting position when he was a true freshman in 2009. Griffin thinks he can do it too.
"We talked a lot this weekend about the defense and how everything is going to work," Griffin said. "I think I have a good chance of being on the field. I want to be a starter and help lead this team. The coaches told me that even though I'll be a freshman, they don't want me to play like a freshman. Play like an upperclassman. That will give me the opportunity to be on the field."
Griffin was among a group of prior commitments taking their official visits this past weekend. He was joined by his twin brother and cornerback Shaquill Griffin, linebacker Deondre Barnett, linebacker Jake Berman, defensive end Blake Keller, athlete Mario Mathis and running back Micah Reed.
"I had a great time in Orlando chilling with the players, going around and seeing how everything works," Griffin said. "It was a great experience."
The Griffins arrived on Friday at around 3 p.m.
"We played a game and then went out to eat," Griffin said. "We talked to coaches and went out with the players. We hung out. Same thing next day. We just went around the school and went through the process. The next thing we know we're back with the players just chilling. It was like family."
Griffin said getting to know his future teammates was the best part about the trip.
"It wasn't just one host, it was like the whole team was together chilling," Griffin said. "It was T.P. (Terrance Plummer), Drico Johnson, Pete DiNovo, a lot of us. I got along great with the players. They just let us know how it's going to be. They were being real with us. It was a very memorable weekend."
The Griffins are already good friends with DiNovo, who played quarterback up the road at East Lake. He enrolled in January.
"Pete was just saying how great it is," Griffin said. "Everything is going well for him. He said we're going to have a great time there."
The group talked about what they can do to help take UCF to the next level.
"We all have the same goals," Griffin said. "They went to a bowl game this year and had fun at the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl. The next phase is to do even better. Win championships and bigger bowl games."
Shaquem and his brother met with head coach George O'Leary before departing on Sunday.
"We're pretty much solid," Griffin said. "We leave on Wednesday for the International Bowl in Texas. We'll have our signing day out there. We're very excited about it. I'm sure it's going to be a good experience."
The 2013 International Bowl features the U.S. Under-19 National Team against a team of the best football players from around the world. The game will be played in Austin, Tex., on Tuesday, Feb. 5.