Graham Returning Home as Star Running Back

Pittsburgh's Ray Graham and Rutgers' Khaseem Greene faced off twice in college already, but not as two of the top players in the conference. Graham discussed Saturday's matchup and what it means to face off against former mentors that left the Pitt staff to work for Greg Schiano.

Ray Graham and Khaseem Greene are set for another brotherly battle this weekend when Pittsburgh comes to Rutgers. Their sibling rivalry is well-documented, but this year will be different because Greene is not Graham's only opponent with which he has a close personal relationship this time around.

When Graham ultimately committed to Pittsburgh as a four-star recruit out of Elizabeth High School, one of the biggest draws was his relationship with then-Pittsburgh defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley.

While with Pittsburgh, Hafley was a dominant force in recruiting New Jersey, just as he is now with Rutgers, and Graham was his first "big get."

So when Graham lines up against Rutgers Saturday, he faces his brother, a former mentor and his offensive coordinator in last year in Frank Cignetti.

"I'm looking forward just to playing Rutgers," Graham said. "Coach Cignetti, he's my coach. Coach Hafley, he's my recruiting coach. Much love to them out there. Coach Cignetti, even [offensive assistant Andrew Janocko] out there. There is still much love for them, but we're here to play Rutgers."

Graham had verbal offers from Maryland and Rutgers late in the game, but Pittsburgh won out after having the longest relationship with him, specifically Hafley.

"[Rutgers] got involved late and offered me late, but I felt when I came to Pitt, that's where my heart was," Graham said. "That's where I felt most comfortable and that's why I'm here now."

Rutgers brought in three-star running backs De'Antwan Williams and Aaron Hayward in 2009 when Graham chose Pittsburgh and followed suit with Jeremy Deering, Casey Turner and Jawan Jamison the next year.

Williams and Turner are no longer with the program. Hayward is s student assistant because of injuries, but Jamison and Deering have bright futures with Rutgers.

"Ray Graham's is a great football player, so he's going to help no matter what offense he's in," said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. "He's elusive, he's quick, he's got great vision, balance, strength, and he's really good. This is really going to be a huge challenge for our defense."

Greene and Graham faced off as backups two years ago in Piscataway and did it again in Pittsburgh last year as impact players.

In their third college clash, they do so as arguably the best players on their side of the ball for each team.

Graham, last week's Walter Camp and Big East Player of the Week winner, has 905 total yards and eight touchdowns through five games.

Greene leads Rutgers with 23 tackles.

"It's definitely good," Graham said. "I think we work so hard that the hard work is starting to pay off and the big thing about it is not getting too comfortable on the field. That's a great honor [for me] to be the No. 1 rusher and for [Greene],that's really good for him, especially since he's playing a new position."

Greene did not get many opportunities to make a play on Graham last year as a safety. Now the starting weakside linebacker, however, it is all but guaranteed that the two collide Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium.

"It's not weird," Greene said. "It's actually fun, exciting to play against my brother, to have our family here, on both sides. Sometimes it's overwhelming, coming from where we come from and what we went through growing up. It's kind of like a blessing. It's exciting."

On film, Graham said Greene's adjustment to linebacker is impressive to say the least.

"I like his size," Graham said. "He put on nice size. He got really big and he knew what he had to do to play that position and he knew how much he had to weigh coming into the season. ... He's looking really good on the field."

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