A week ago Idaho picked up one of the verbal commitments they’d been seeking for a long time – since an offer was extended in September to be exact. Cheney High star Ty Graham, a 6-foot-0, 205-pound outside linebacker prospect out of the Great Northern League of the Inland Empire region of Washington, made his Vandal pledge on his official visit last weekend. And with that commit, Idaho got one of the linebackers they had been seeking for months.
Graham is the product of a football family. His father, John Graham, is an assistant at Eastern Washington University, and the strong family ties made dad an outstanding mentor for the younger Graham. A team leader on a Blackhawk squad that went 10-2 last year, Ty’s career honors included twice being named a Team Captain, and last fall was named the 2015 GNL MVP on both sides of the ball (as a safety defensively and runningback on offense). Additionally, his honors include being recognized as a two-time First Team All-League defensive back selection, and a two-time offensive All-League selection.
Among his most noteworthy statistics, Graham picked off three passes as a junior and four more last season as a senior, when he also logged about 100 tackles from his safety position. He’ll project at UI as a SAM linebacker where his speed can be best utilized.
Several coaches were involved in the recruiting process, but it was Coach Petrino primarily running point for the Vandals that sealed the deal, with heavy assistance from Offensive Coordinator Kris Cinkovich and quarterbacks coach Bryce Erickson.
GoVandals.net recently caught up with the Inland Empire standout about his commitment to the Vandals, and below are highlights from our conversation.
ABOUT THE RECRUITING PROCESS: “Since the beginning I was not very heavily recruited,” Graham told GoVandals.net. “I had one full-ride offer, from Idaho, and a partial from Eastern Washington University. I was just always the underdog. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Cheney plays in Class 2A in Washington, one of the smaller classifications in the state] A lot of schools looked at me; I either wasn’t big enough to be a linebacker or not fast enough to be a safety. I was kind of an in-betweener. The other schools that were talking to me were Montana and Montana State, Portland State, and a little bit from Northern Arizona. They all said they went with in-state kids instead.
“But then I got the incredible opportunity to earn a full-ride from the University of Idaho. I was just very blessed with that, and now I’m a Vandal.”
HOW WAS THE CONNECTION MADE BETWEEN GRAHAM AND IDAHO: “In our league, Cheney plays Pullman, and I actually know Mason Petrino very well. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Mason is Idaho head coach Paul Petrino's son] I think I’m actually going to room with Mason. So through Mason a little bit, Coach Petrino has watched me play whenever we played each other. I got invited down to their Junior Day, and that was the first time I’d heard from Idaho. Petrino said he was going to keep in touch with me through the summer, and he was always contacting me. I eventually went to their summer camp and they liked what they saw, and after that they were constantly calling me and checking in with me. Eventually, at the end of September -- on my birthday -- they gave me the offer, and that was cool.”
WHEN HE TOOK HIS OFFICIAL VISIT TO UI: “I was on my official visit [last weekend]. Going into it, the reason why I wasn’t committed just yet was because I needed some questions answered. I got the answers I needed Friday, and I decided Saturday morning I was going to commit, and that’s when everything went down.”
WHAT WAS THE REACTION TO HIS COMMITMENT: “It was kinda cool. I was going to wait until dinner, but right before dinner we all got to try on jersies. We were trying on jersies and coach Petrino said, ‘Alright, all the commits come take a picture.’ And I was thinking, well, this would be a good time. So I said, ‘Alright Coach Petrino, I’ve decided the University of Idaho is the best place for me.’ Everybody went nuts and it was cool; all the other commits were really pumped and everything. So it was awesome, and I loved it.”
WHICH VANDAL PLAYERS DID HE MEET WHILE ON HIS OFFICIAL: “Russell Siavii was my host and was awesome. I got to hang out with him, Dorian Clark, and Kevin Shelton, and those guys are all just great guys. I had a BLAST hanging with those guys. It was a great experience to be around them.
“I met Kaden Ellis this weekend too. He’s a great kid, I like him a lot. I didn’t know who he was when I came down earlier this fall to watch a game. He was just tearing it up; he’s a fun player to watch.”
WHAT POSITION IS IDAHO RECRUITING TY TO PLAY: “They’re going to have me play outside linebacker, so SAM 'backer. I’m really looking forward to that, because I got to play a lot of strong safety this year and I would get down into the box quite a bit too. I’m really looking forward to learning this new position and playing my butt off this year.”
ABOUT THE VANDAL DEFENSE AND NEW COACHING STAFF: “That was, going into this, what I wanted to know – how the players liked playing in this program. Almost every single answer I got was that they love it, they’re willing to win, and they’re on the rise right now. They think they’re going to be good these next few years. Knowing that every kid thinks like that [was important], and not that every kid is like, ‘Oh I know, it kinda sucks that we got outplayed.’ They’re just keeping positive and they trust their coaching system. That spoke to me a lot, knowing that they really like playing for their coach. All of them are wanting to win at all costs.”
ABOUT HIS PLANS FOR PLAYING THIS FALL: “It all depends on how much I develop this summer. If I come in with an attitude and work ethic of me wanting to play my freshman year, they think that I could do that. But if I have more time to develop, then I may eventually redshirt out. They’re not thinking a grayshirt whatsoever, so I’ll be coming in this summer and working out with the team and going to summer school and everything.”
ABOUT WHAT HE WANTS TO MAJOR IN AT UI: “Before going on my visit I was thinking of business. At first I was thinking of accounting and finance. But I went on the campus tour and the business facility, and the guide started talking about business marketing and it instantly struck my interest immediately. A little better than sitting behind a desk every single day. I’m really looking forward to earning my degree in that and sticking with it.”