Brandon Graham's move away from the line of scrimmage was a decision made out of necessity, but once he took his place in the middle of the Crockett defense, it was clear that he was at the position he was born to play.
"With Johnny here (in 2003), we didn’t have a need for a linebacker," Franklin said. "We didn't know where we were going to put him. I was defensive line coach and I wanted him, so we made him a defensive end. We didn’t move Brandon to middle linebacker last year (in 2004) until the day before our first scrimmage. We had about a week and a half before our first game and we were sitting in practice watching our backers. We had lost two Big Ten linebackers (Thompson and Sutton) from the year before to graduation, so everybody that came in was fresh. We thought our two first-year guys were going to be able to do it, but we watched practice and we were a little bit slower than we thought. I had Brandon at one D-end and Trevor Anderson (who signed with Cincinnati) at the other. As the D-line coach I was happy, but I couldn’t sleep. I knew that we had hole in our defense. I had to come out and do something. I said, 'we have got to move Brandon up.' He hadn’t played linebacker since J-V football, and even then it was just on instinct, but there was no question about it in my mind. From the day we stood him up it was the best move that we made for our team. I think it was one of the biggest reasons our defense was so good. We filled that middle hole."
The Rockets ran roughshod through their opponents in 2004, outscoring them 457-60. In the process they defeated Eastern Michigan commitment Terrence Blevins and Detroit Denby 12-0 for the Public school league title, and Western Michigan commitment Kirk Elsworth and Goodrich for the Regional championship. Their lone setback came in the state semi-finals at the hands of Jackson Lumen Christi, 9-7. Despite the loss, it was still a great season, highlighted by a few memorable plays from Graham."
"There are a couple of plays that he made last year that really stick out," Franklin said. "Both came when we were playing big time runningbacks. The first one came against Blevins from Denby. All week, we as a staff were saying, 'they're going to have to meet in the phone both!' We wanted to see who came out the other end. He hit Blevins at Ford Field in the PSL title game and it was a knockout shot! Mommas that don't even know about football went crazy over that one! The same thing happened to Elsworth. It was Brandon that came out the other end."
For the rest of the article, be sure to check out the April issue of GoBlueWolverine the Magazine.