Rico McGraw began the summer as a prospect looking for exposure through camps and 7-on-7 tournaments. After earning MVP honors at a showcase and excelling at camps throughout SEC country, the sophomore is sitting more than a half-dozen offers, including from the likes of Alabama, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
The Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth defensive back's rise was a quick one, but he is eager to take the next step in the evaluation process with the 2012 season now underway.
"It just is a sign for me to just keep working hard and stay humble," the class of 2015 prospect said of his rise. "I know a lot of people have been shocked, but when they see me in the regular season with real pads and 11-on-11 – I'm just ready to show them. We had a game Friday night and I feel like I owned up to having the offers."
Coaches from big-time programs seem to feel the same way about the 6-foot, 190-pound McGraw.
"I've heard a lot of coaches talk about my size, my athletic ability and how I can just play the sport," he said. "I know they really like me at the corner position because of my size and how big I am, and Alabama likes to recruit big corners like myself."
McGraw took in Tuscaloosa, where he previously camped, again on Saturday to see the team's final camp scrimmage. While seeing the campus was nothing new, the on-the-field college action was.
"I stayed for the day; it was my fifth time going down there. It was actually my first time seeing Alabama live, playing together in person," he admitted. "It was good to see coach (Nick) Saban coaching players on the field, and all the coaches at that.
"For all the coaches out there, what I really want is a relationship that's strong to the head coach. With him (Saban) being my position coach, it gives me the chance to have Alabama really up (high) with me – so that's really good."
While the event was going on, McGraw had the chance to speak to a few players about the atmosphere at Alabama.
"During the scrimmage, a couple of players talked to me about having a thick skin," said McGraw. "I don't really have a problem with that because coach Saban is really similar to my head coach right now (Richard Bowers), so I like his personality and we can get along on and off the field."
McGraw called the visit a success, and Alabama remains high on his list, but he isn't ready to talk about leaders just yet.
"It's really too early right now, I'm hoping for many more offers and to talk to many more coaches and players while traveling around to see other campuses," he said.
Non-football factors will also be big in his eventual college decision, and it starts with mom.
"My mom is preaching education, to make sure my family is okay with my choice," he maintains. "But really, my mom grew up as an Alabama fan – though she doesn't pressure on me with Alabama. She wants me to see other campuses and the education part that stands out to me."
With plenty to be determined in his recruitment, the rising standout does feel like he's generating plenty of buzz although it's still not the most among Ensworth prospects.
Said McGraw, "I feel like I'm a big-time prospect, but playing with (4-star 2013 RB) Cornelius Elder makes it feel good to be in the process. He's helping me out with this process, he was in the same situation as I am but he's in the spotlight just like myself."
The 2015 prospect hopes to study sports medicine or sports management in college.