A conversation with Patrick Graffree
Patrick Graffree was not only one of the first players to commit to Kentucky's 2012 recruiting class, but he was also one of the first players to let it be known he believed in the Wildcats even at midseason when the team was struggling and that he expected UK?to beat Tennessee. The Central Hardin defensive end says it was easy to keep his faith in the Wildcats. "I believe in my team," said Graffree. He revealed that because of a friendly wager he made with UK defensive line coach David Turner, he actually did the Bernie — a hyphy-esque dance craze that swept the South based on the 1980's movie "Weekend at Bernie's" — every time he got a quarterback sack during the season. He also told Turner he had to do the dance if Kentucky beat Tennessee. "Coach Turner did it, too. He's probably too old to be doing it. He almost broke his back and didn't move his shoulders," Graffree said. "He did it back in the locker room behind closed doors so he would not embarrass himself. But I've got to teach him some dance moves. "Being in the locker room was great, though. The players had the music turned up. I was jumping around with Danny Trevathan and all the guys. I felt like I was already on the team. I?am a Kentucky Wildcat fan. I?always knew that we could win. I saw that against Georgia. We just had not been executing. Any middle school, high school, college or even NFL team can't win if it does not execute. The defense had to hold the team this year. I am sure next year we will have very good players on offense. Maybe another (Randall) Cobb or (Mike) Hartline. We have some good players next year.?I know that." Graffree is realistic enough to know he might have a hard time playing in the defensive front next year.?He only weighs about 260 now and that's not likely to change since he's playing basketball. "But it is like coach Turner told me. Once (strength coach) Rock (Oliver) gets his hands on me, anything can happen," Graffree said. "I need my technique to be tuned up. I have to learn the system. I?think I've got a chance to play, but if not I will support the team 100 percent." He says his basketball skills rate about a four on a one to 10 scale. "I wasn't going to play at first to concentrate on football, but I?like the guys on the team," Graffree said. "My body is not made for basketball, but I like running and staying in shape. Coach Turner said it won't matter if I come in at 270 or more because all Rock will do is take the bad weight off and then build me so. So why not come in fresh and add muscle and get better from the start. Basketball will keep me in shape." Graffree heard the chatter most of the season about the UK football team's downfall. He ignored it. "I know at the end of the day UK?is a good school and has a good coaching staff," the Central Hardin senior said. "People want to state their opinions, and that's fine. But Kentucky is going to win in the future." Remember, he's not a life-long Kentucky fan. He grew up in Alabama — "I still root for them because that is where I am from" — and only moved to Kentucky three years ago. Initially, he says he was "sold" on playing for Louisville but the Cardinals did not offer a scholarship. He went to Kentucky's camp after his junior year and met both Turner and head coach Joker Phillips. He liked them, and UK's indoor practice facility. He got a follow-up visit from UK?assistant coach Steve Pardue and accepted UK's scholarship less than 48 hours after it was offered. "I went to camp and showed what I?had and gave it my all," Graffree said. "Now I?am all about the Big Blue Nation. I like the blue and white. That's a good, good combination." Central Hardin coach Mark Perry, a former UK quarterback, thinks Kentucky has landed a solid player in Graffree. "He is so strong. If you look at the attributes you want to see in a tackle, he has them. He can bench press 315 (pounds) five times, which is the equivalent of a 375 press. He power cleaned 290. He can squat 490. And that is natural strength because he also played basketball and ran track. When you see his strength and explosiveness, you can see he has a huge upside," Perry said. "He's a good kid, too. He's not going to be missing class and doing bad things. He makes good grades and is a likable kid that calls or texts me once or twice a day just to talk." "He has made Kentucky his home. I talk to him about my experience at Kentucky and told him I?think it is a first-class program and place that treats kids right while they are there and when they go on from there. I think Kentucky offers as good an opportunity as anybody in the county. I think they will like what they have in him, too. Not many guys in that class will have the physical presence he does." Not many will have his outgoing personality, either. He connects with other recruits on a variety of social media. "I like to connect and talk. I am a friendly person.?I know a lot of people," he said. "I feel like God put me in this position. This is a blessing, so why not give my all for what is worth. This is an opportunity I?know I am lucky to have."
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