There's many challenges that Paul Chryst has taking over in his first year at Pitt. One of the biggest ones--aside from taking on his first year as a head coach, the impact he hopes to have after Todd Graham abruptly lead in December. Few on-the-field questions are bigger than getting running back Ray Graham back in the mix.
At Big East media day, Graham's health was one of the biggest questions brought up throughout the day--aside from the storyline of Pitt heading into the ACC, snd beginning their final season of play in the Big East. Chryst is encouraged by where Graham's health is, but he is still unsure of how many reps Graham will take once camp commences next week.
At the very least, he feels Graham has been able to do a lot in the summer conditioning routines.
"He's had a good summer," Chryst said. "I'm looking forward to him being ready and able to go out on the field. Obviously, everything with Ray, he's a great fit for this team.
"We anticipate him going, day one. He's been able to go back-to-back (conditioning) workouts. Going back-to-back practice? What will that be like? I think you just have to be smart and communicate."
Graham was asked the question of his health numerous times throughout the day. If the choice were his, he feels confident that he'll be able to take as many snaps as possible. Like his head coach, though, Graham understands he has to be patient, especially being able to take on full contact.
"It's a mindset," Graham said. "It's all about how you go about the situation. I think hard workers, they bounce back. I think I'm a hard worker. I put my effort into getting my leg right, and I really believe that I'll be out there come September 1."
Graham was off to the best stastical start for a Pitt running back in school history. Entering that UConn game where he tore his right ACL, his 958 yards were the most through the first eight games of a season. Graham said there were down times, but he never questioned why it had to happen, nor did he ever take a 'why me?' stance.
"I never did," Graham said. "This was one of my first big injuries. The (Pitt) players kept me happy. They brought me up when I was down. I had no reason to be mad. The fans, they acknowledged me. They show big love. That's a big blessing right there that you never forget about."
A major help to him throughout the whole thing was the guidance of his brother, Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene. Greene sustained a leg injury in his team's Pinstripe Bowl win over Iowa State. As if the two needed to be closer, they were both forced to miss spring drills due to injury, not to mention having to both play for new head coaches.
"That's crazy, right?" Graham said, referring to both having new coaches. "Whatever Khaseem was doing, I was doing. Everything happens for a reason. This could be for the better. We just have to move of forward. You can't look back. What happened in the past is in the past."
Throughout their respective rehab processes, the two relied on each other. Not to mention, both were first-teams in the Big East in 2011.
"In our family, we're warriors, nothing comes easy," Grahm said. "I think God doesn't put anything in your life if he thinks you can't get through it. I think we're going to bounce back, and I think we're (healthy). I think (Khaseem) is good. That injury was something small to him. It's a minor setback for a major comeback for us."
Greene agreed. He knew he had to be strong throughout his rehab process, but also felt a need to be inspirational in his brother's rehab.
"I was inspired by his drive, and his willing to give up his (spring) break to train in Pittsburgh with a trainer," Green said. "That meant a lot to me, and I know it meant a lot to him. It's been hard, but I know he's been really pushing it. He'd send me a video of him running a forty, or I'd send him a video of me working out. It was us working out. We were a million miles apart, but we were ally going through it together. It was pretty unique."