Winning is everything for McGraw

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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Rico McGraw is one of the fastest rising defensive back prospects in the Class of 2015.

After hitting the scene as a relative unknown earlier in the spring, the Ensworth (Tenn.) High School prospect has turned the eye of some of the premier college football programs in the country.

In spite of his youth, the 6-foot, 175-pounder already boasts 12 scholarship offers.

Tennessee, along with Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, are all Southeastern Conference schools with offers on the table.

"Right now, Alabama and Ole Miss have been showing the most interest. I'm getting interest from all around now," McGraw told InsideTennessee.

He got a verbal offer on the spot from Nick Saban after he saw the Volunteer State product compete in a 7 on 7 tournament. That interaction is part of the reason why McGraw thinks highly of the Crimson Tide.

"Just their tradition," he said. "They have a tradition of passing DBs like myself into the league. And, winning. That's what I really look into is winning."

New Tennessee head coach Butch Jones made his way to Nashville on Tuesday and stopped by Ensworth. The staff for the Volunteers have work to do familiarizing McGraw with the fresh faces on The Hill.

"Tennessee, they definitely had a downfall with (Derek) Dooley being fired, but I'm sure they'll have a great coaching staff in and progress," McGraw said.

"I just want a coach that knows how to win. I just want to step into a program that can win through any kind of conflict. Just win. I want a coach that knows how to win."

Ensworth just ended its 2012 season the same way it did 2011 — on top. The Tigers outscored foes 101-28 in three playoff games en route to their third straight TSSAA BlueCross Bowl Div. II Class AA state championship.

"We've worked all the way from June to this point; this is what we've been waiting for," McGraw said. "We've been working hard. We can't stop just here. Me and (Donovan) Sheffield, we have two more years. Now, we've got to put in more work to get to this spot two more times."

In last week's championship, Ensworth took down Memphis University School 31-14 at Tucker Stadium on Tennessee Tech's campus.

McGraw gave a personal scouting report on his performance: "I think I did OK. I had a couple opportunities to break up on the ball. Other than that, I think I played exceptionally well."

The Tigers, ranked No. 30 in the country in FOX Sports NEXT's Week 16 poll, have a roster loaded with players like McGraw, Sheffield (Vanderbilt commit) and Mr. Football Cornelius Elder.

"It's great," McGraw said of all the talent. "We have so many players on the team that are great — like Corn Elder scoring the ball."

The Pulaski, Tenn., native said he improved on his aggressiveness and tackling as his sophomore year went along. He wants to work on "rebuilding on a bad play" if an opposing receiver makes a catch.

McGraw, who plans to go through his entire senior year, will also play baseball, basketball and run track as a sophomore at his Nashville-based private school.

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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