Graham Earned OSU Offer Despite Injuries

It took some time, but Ohio State wound up landing a quarterback in its class of 2010 in Taylor Graham. That proved to be a relief on both sides after Graham's junior season was cut short by a serious ankle injury that put his future in doubt.

It took all of five games as a junior to create doubt about Taylor Graham's ability to play college football.

A quarterback for Wheaton (Ill.) North, he was facing a third-down conversion at home against Aurora West. Graham took the snap and faked to the running back, rolling out to his right when he suddenly had a defender in his face.

Graham unloaded the ball near the sideline but took a hit that would knock him out for the rest of the season.

"He hit me, and all his body weight fell on me," Graham told "My left foot was stuck in the ground. My foot stayed on the ground where my body all came down. My toes basically came up to my shin. If you can picture, my foot was on the ground with my shin almost parallel to the ground too."

The 6-4, 211-pound Graham dusted himself off but could not put pressure on the ankle and had to come out of the game. With trainers working on him on the sideline, Graham said he felt the ankle was nothing more than a bad sprain.

That feeling was backed up when he arrived in the emergency room later that evening and the nurses felt the same as they examined his non-swollen ankle.

"It didn't hurt that bad, to be honest," he said. "I'm not trying to sound tough or anything. I thought I just tweaked it. My initial thought was, ‘Oh, suck it up, go out and keep playing,' but then I got up and tried to put pressure on it and I couldn't really stand on it."

Then the X-rays came back, and the verdict was in: he had broken his ankle and would be out for the season.

"The foot bone jutted up into the ankle bone and sliced it off," he said. "If you look on your ankle there's the little ball on the inside. That basically was separated from the rest of my leg. Technically it's my tibia, but we call it my ankle."

The injury resulted in surgery that placed three screws into Graham's ankle. The quarterback was in a boot with crutches for six weeks before being allowed to put any pressure on the broken ankle. He finished the year with 950 passing yards, six touchdowns and one interception.

For the record, he did complete the pass on the fateful play for a first down – and the Falcons rallied to win the game, 38-27.

"It was worth it," Graham said.

Graham's senior season suffered a similar fate, as a knee injury limited him to four games. He completed 43 of 89 passes for 457 yards and three touchdowns along with one interception and also rushed the ball six times for 23 yards.

This injury did not require surgery, however, and Graham is expected to be able to take on a more active role on his school's basketball team than he was able to a year ago.

As a junior, Graham tried to play but was consistently slowed by ankle injuries.

"I missed about half the year because of the injury," he said. "I was probably not 100 percent playing until March, I'd say. It was a while. I'd come in and try to play in a game and get hurt, sprain it again and have to come back out. It was a long process."

Asked if he ever worried that his career was finished, Graham said, "No, not at any time was I thinking that. I was just waiting it out, trying to get back. I was never worried that I wasn't going to play again or anything like that."

Now, the next time he suits up on the gridiron will be for Ohio State after he earned a scholarship offer during the summer of 2009. When Graham reports to Columbus, he will be fourth on the depth chart behind starter Terrelle Pryor, who will be a junior, and backups Joe Bauserman (junior) and Ken Guiton (likely redshirt freshman). It is a depth chart he is happy to be a part of, he said.

"I'm fine with the situation," he said. "I don't think you're going to find one that's a whole lot better. There's going to be competition wherever you go and I understand that. I'll be ready for it."

Given what he has gone through to get to this point, that should not come as a surprise.

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