2008 Intro: T.J. Graham

RALEIGH, N.C. --- Unlike most members of the class of 2008 currently on the public's radar, T.J. Graham doesn't boast a junior football season of big stats and impressive highlight reels. Instead, the 6-foot, 180-pound wide receiver has relied on a previous relationship and his track success to gain recruiting exposure.

"This year we had a new coach [Lee Atkins], so [with a] new coach you have to reintroduce yourself," said Graham. "I was playing quarterback and got hurt the first game – I pulled my groin – and missed two games from that.

"I came back and then that's when things became a conflict. I told [Atkins] I didn't want to play quarterback any more because there was nobody to throw it to and I was always running the ball and our offensive line wasn't the greatest so I took a lot of hits. I went back to receiver and came into conflict with the other guys that were playing there before. So I kept moving around."

Graham ended the season with 12 catches for 242 yards for two touchdowns in eight games. He also threw for another 128 yards and rushed for 118 yards.

After one year at Wakefield, Atkins resigned, leaving a vacancy at head coach and no one to help Graham with his recruitment.

Regardless, college recruits have found ways to contact Graham.

"I've been getting a lot of interest letters from everywhere," said Graham.

The foundation of Graham's college interest stems from his non-recruiting relationship with N.C. State's former staff when he was in middle school.

"My dad is a professional track coach so we used to train at N.C. State," said Graham. "This is when the football team used to be based at the Weisiger-Brown Building. I'd always be up at the track and the football team would always came in and practice. I would be in the way of them, because I would end up on the field throwing the football around. I eventually turned into a ball boy."

Graham eventually developed strong friendships with each of the Wolfpack's assistant coaches and their children, especially Dick Portee.

"He was the main one [that I was close to]," said Graham. "I called him all the time and talked to him. I asked him questions that I didn't understand about [recruiting and football] stuff. But then, I couldn't talk to him as much as I used to, because it would be a violation; he couldn't return my calls. When I was in middle school, it's different – I guess."

Prior to his junior season, N.C. State invited Graham to their one-day summer camp where he ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. A month later he was extended a NCSU offer.

However, the regime change in Raleigh has put things in limbo.

"I grew up watching N.C. State, but since their coaching change all those guys that I knew are all gone so I just kind of opened up," said Graham. "I haven't talked to [the new staff], yet; they haven't come in contact with me."

Conversely, the coaching change in Chapel Hill has helped the chances of North Carolina.

"Since [North] Carolina got a new coach – a good coach – and they're building their staff real well, I've kind of changed my perception," said Graham. "They've been sending me some mail since Coach [Butch] Davis got in office. I got some mail from them saying ‘We're going to take our time, we're going to get ready, we're going to start recruiting when we get settled in."

Graham's lone UNC campus experience occurred during the John Bunting era.

"I've been there for the N.C. State-Carolina [football] game, but that was with John Bunting," said Graham. "I had a lot of fun."

With proximity playing such a major role in his college decision, it looks like the two in-state schools will battle it out for Graham's February signature.

"I like Carolina," said Graham. "I like winning [and] they've got some tools since they've recruited a good class. They're coaches have gotten better.

"N.C. State, I like them. I like their facilities – it's real nice. I've been all throughout that place – I like grew up over there, but now I have to reintroduce myself to everybody there.

"Those are the main two, because my parents want to keep me close. But, if I really wanted to go somewhere and it's somewhere I like, then I'll go there."

However, Graham's next scholarship offer might come from an out-of-state school.

"I have [an offer] that's pending from Virginia," said Graham. "They've been calling me all the time. I get text messages from Coach [Anthony] Pointdexter. He sends me text messages [and] we talk all the time. As soon as they get my tape and my transcripts [they will offer me]."

Last weekend, Graham headed to Raleigh for N.C. State's Junior Day. The only other unofficial visit Graham has made this spring is to Duke for their basketball game against Boston College.

Graham's track success is also helping to get his name out there. Earlier this month, Graham was selected for the state meet in 55-meters but a false start forced a disqualification.

This spring, Graham will partake in spring track where he will run the 100-meter (expects to run a 10.6-second time) and 200-meter (expects to run a 21.4-second time), and participate in the long jump where he holds the school record of 21'7". Additionally, for the first time he will participate in the high jump where he jumped a 6'3" in practice.

T.J. Graham Profile

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