Grahams Rocked By Shannon's Departure

The apparent departure of Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon to Florida has Razorback linebacker pledge and Sunshine State prospect Derrick Graham (6-4, 225) and his older brother P.J. reeling and having to assess the younger Graham's commitment status.

The news that Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon is headed to Florida has not been officially confirmed by either school, but seems a foregone conclusion.

It is likely to have an impact on Razorback three-star linebacker commit Derrick Graham (6-4, 225), who was born in Gainesville and lived there through the eighth grade while growing up a Gators fan.

It was at that point that he moved to Wachula, Fla., and moved in with his older brother P.J., who took custody of him in 2008.

“This is big news for us if it is true, but it has not been confirmed on our end just yet,” P.J. Graham said Wednesday afternoon. “Obviously Coach Shannon being at Arkansas was one of the big reasons that Derrick chose the Razorbacks.

“I have known Coach Shannon for a long time, even back to win I was running track in high school,” Graham added. “We are just trying to get information and then I am sure we will talk about it as a family.”

He chose Arkansas on his birthday Nov. 4 over Florida and Mississippi State – two schools that have since apparently lost the linebacker’s chief recruiters to the staff of new Gators head coach Jim McElwain.

Graham, who had 32 tackles, three stops for lost yardage and two pass break ups for Hardee High Schooll this season, is one of 18 current Razorback commitments in the 2015 class.

“He got it down to those three schools and now the coach that was recruiting him at Mississippi State – Coach Geoff Collins – is now at Florida and we’re hearing that Coach Shannon is now going to be at Florida,” Graham said.

“Being that Derrick is a native Gainesvillian and that I went to school at Florida, it certainly shakes up things,” Graham added.

The Grahams started to hear rumors on Monday night about Shannon on Monday night right after Arkansas routed Texas 31-7 in the Texas Bowl.

“Derrick actually called me at 2 a.m. and woke me up because all the Florida players were texting each other and trying to find out if the rumors of Coach Shannon coming home to Florida were true.

“Derrick loves Coach Shannon and I do, too and we have a lot of trust in him and that is a big reason that Derrick chose Arkansas,” Graham added.

The older Graham got ahold of Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith on Tuesday.

“He said that he honestly didn’t know what was going to happen with Coach Shannon at that point,” Graham said. “I just got off work and I am going to try and see what I can find out. I think Coach Bielema is out of the country right now.”

Since Derrick took his official visit to Arkansas during the season, both Grahams were slated to use their own money to come back to Fayetteville on Jan. 16-18 to help recruit several Florida prospects due in that weekend.

“Derrick and I wanted to get up there and help out along with those current Florida players there that are Razorbacks now and let them know that Arkansas is the right place for them as well as Derrick,” Graham said.

The Grahams will now try to gather as much information as they can before deciding how to proceed.

“I am sure that Arkansas is going to hire a very good coach to replace Coach Shannon if he is indeed leaving and that will certainly be something that Derrick will want to know about,” Graham said. “We are just in kind of a holding pattern right now.”

Derrick Graham

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