Graham beating the odds
The odds of a 5-4, 155-pound High School senior getting an invite to play college football are longer than that same person picking out the right combo for the Mega Millions lottery, twice.
However, Washington’s Keane Graham hit the jackpot this year when Elizabeth City University looked past his stature and into his Sears Tower-sized heart and offered him preferred walk-on status for the upcoming football season.
“I’m real excited. All I wanted was an opportunity,” Graham said.
That he will get, but his chance to shine will be delayed until the ACL in his left knee recovers from a tear it suffered midway through the football season, which remarkably didn’t cause him to miss a single game on the gridiron, or the hardwood.
That’s right, the undersized wideout/running back who clashed against menacing middle linebackers and scampered past T-Rex-sized tackles did so for about half the season on one leg, then delayed his knee surgery until after the entire basketball season was finished.
“He plays with a lot of heart,” Washington coach Sport Sawyer said. “In practice he doesn’t do like some players who sit in the back and don’t want to practice. He’ll run scout quarterback, scout running back, scout receiver and do whatever we want. He has a lot of heart. To play and to go to the next level you have to have that.”
While there’s no doubt Graham is equipped with a blood-pumper that’s roughly the size of a Buick, he also had the stats to match. Despite playing on a flat tire, Graham averaged eight yards per carry in the Pam Pack’s mid-line option offense and accumulated 821 rushing yards while catching six passes and scored a total of seven touchdowns to earn first-team honors on the WDN all-area squad as an athlete.
Graham’s ability to make plays, whether it be via handoff or reception, caught Elizabeth City’s eye and the school hopes he can do the same as a slot receiver once he’s fully recovered from the knee surgery he had in the beginning of March.
“They run a spread and want me to be a slot-type guy that can run jet sweeps and stuff like that,” said Graham, who will redshirt his freshman year. “I think I can fit in great.”
So does Sawyer, who watched him do just that during his tenure with the Pam Pack.
“With him being able to catch the ball and run the ball you can move him around and try to put him in space and I think that’s what he will get a chance to do at Elizabeth City,” Sawyer said. “With him playing on a bad leg last season, once he gets back to full strength he will be able to use his cutting ability and vision of the field to do some good things.”
Graham will follow in the footsteps of fellow former WHS, stars RB William Ellegor and OL Kevin Chapman, who are heading into their sophomore seasons with the Vikings. Before Graham can join them on the field on game day, he must first prove himself on the scout team. However, the man who has defied the odds is leaving nothing to chance and said he will do whatever it takes to make the team.
“I’m just going to go into the weight room and try and get stronger and try and get better,” Graham said. “College is the next level and there are next-level players there too who are just as good as me so I have to standout.”
It’s a good bet he will.