Raiford talks commit to Navy

Michael Raiford was content with academics, ROTC, and playing in the marching back at Heritage High in Conyers, Ga., until head coach Chad Frazier persuaded him to join the Patriot football team. After a breakout performance in as a junior, Raiford began turning the heads of plenty Division 1 coaches, but it was only one who would matter, Ken Niumatalolo at Navy.

"It's been my lifelong dream to join the Marine Corps," said Michael Raiford. "When I received my offer from Navy in the spring of my junior year, my Mom just laughed and said now you have chance to purse your dream. I was starting to hear from some other schools, but I committed soon after the offer to Justin Davis, my recruiter. It's what I've always known I've wanted to do with my life. When I finish at the Academy, I'm going into the Marines."

Raiford, a 6-foot-7, 280-pound nose tackle, although still very raw, will certainly be a load for any opposing offensive line. Frazier brought in the former tuba player to play offensive line.

"This was pretty much my first year on defense," explained Raiford, "so the experience helped me get better. Navy likes me at nose tackle. We run a 3-4 defense [at Heritage] and I played nose and end. When I first started playing as a junior, coach wanted me to play tight end but I ended up moving to offensive tackle. It was a god move for me. I thought I had a pretty good year and continued to improve and learn the position."

In the pre-season, Raiford was selected Academic All-State and the recipient of the Good Citizen Award. In the post-season, Raiford was chosen to compete in the D.L. Scott Jr. Coalition Bowl All-Star game at the Georgia Dome.

"The defensive played a great game," Raiford said. "They lined me up at end the entire game and we did a good job of stopping the run. They couldn't go anywhere on us."

Sadly, Raiford's father, Garland Raiford II, passed away in August prior to his son's senior season. He'll bring his mother with him on his first visit to Annapolis in what will likely be a bittersweet official visit.

"I'm going to be on campus the weekend of [January]19th," Raiford said. "I'm looking forward to talking with the players and coaches, especially Coach Nua. I'm going to talk with them about when I report. Right now, they'd like me to start out at NAPS."

With his size, it's no surprise Raiford plays basketball, but he decided to take his senior year off to concentrate on conditioning for college football. He maxes 300 pounds on bench press, 395 squatting, and 275 on power clean. Raiford wore number 51 for the Heritage Patriots who finished the 2012 season at 8-3 in Georgia AAAAA.

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