Announcing his verbal commitment two years in advance of signing his letter of intent, Graham shared his big day with nine other prospects during the Ground Zero commitment ceremony at the Athletic Republic facility in Rancho Cucamonga.
But for Graham, the decision to become a Trojan was first discussed when he was 7-years-old.
“It was the game when USC played Arizona State and we were all watching TV,” said Graham “My dad is from Los Angeles, where my sister and I were born in Arizona.
“My dad was always a USC, Laker, Dodger fan. He liked SC way before we even knew anything about the school. We were actually watching the game because Arizona State had a player named Keegan (Herring) that we knew.
“But that’s when I saw Reggie Bush play for the first time. He was so electric in the second half of that football game, I turned to my dad and said, ‘I want to be like him.’”
However, Graham is now the future of USC football, while his sister, Jasmyne, will run track and field for USC next fall as one of the nation’s top incoming freshman hurdlers.
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“USC has been my dream school since I was little, so getting an offer from them and it being a full ride that was the best feeling in the world,” said Jasmyne Graham back in May. “USC is a great environment.
“I love the track coaching staff. I love the atmosphere and the team was just amazing. I think that’s what drew me to USC. They were a family. It wasn’t just, ‘We’re USC.’ It’s ‘We’re a team. Everybody’s going to work together. We’re going to work together to get everything done.’”
The Graham family now becomes synonymous with the Trojan family. However, while Jasmyne had already made her decision to commit to USC, Thomas had to make the decision to attend the Rising Stars Camp in order to procure USC as an option.
In April, Graham announced that he would make a college commitment in late May or early June — a date that eliminated the opportunity for him to earn a scholarship by camping at USC.
Thus, UCLA and Arizona State then became the frontrunners for his commitment.
“I got the offer from Oklahoma and then Notre Dame was talking to me, so I decided to hold off on committing,” said Graham. “I knew I still wanted to get it over with soon, but then my dad talked to Coach (Keith) Heyward about me camping at USC.
“I wasn’t going to at first, but Coach Heyward said he really wanted to evaluate me in person. They didn’t want to just give me an offer because other schools were giving me offers. He wanted me to know that I went to the camp and earned my offer from USC.”
Indeed, Graham would earn his scholarship offer from USC at the Rising Stars Camp.
The 6-foot, 175-pound four-star cornerback is the third commitment of
the 2017 class for the Trojans. And while there’s plenty written about
Graham’s childhood dreams to go to USC with his sister, he now looks
“It’s a dream coming into a reality, but now I can look ahead and focus on football and not recruiting,” said Graham. “It’s a relief and now I can take unofficial visits to USC knowing that I’m going to be a Trojan.
“I can start thinking about the future of the program and how I fit in. I’m looking at the defensive backs in the classes for before me and how they stack up.”
Graham is currently rated as the No. 4 corner nationally in the 2017 class, but despite his lofty ranking and commitment to a traditional college football power, he does not want to step on campus as a complacent superstar.
“It’s a blessing to be ranked No. 4, but I want to prove that I’m the best corner in the nation,” said Graham. “My dad gave me that mindset when I was younger, so that’s what I’m working toward. I’m working to be No. 1.
“At the same time, I don’t want to be that recruit who thinks he is too good for the system. I’m willing to wait my turn to make an impact, but when I get my turn, I will be ready to contribute.”
In fact, Graham is keenly aware of the sense of entitlement that comes with being a highly touted recruit.
With the Trojans’ attempting to get back to being in the national championship hunt annually, Graham has already bought into changing the culture of USC football post-sanctions.
“I know some players already on the team,” said Graham. “Guys like Su’a Cravens, Adoree Jackson, Biggie Marshall, Chris Hawkins… and the other players I met, they’re born leaders. They’re not going to let you slack off.
“It’s more of a family. I talked to Biggie and Juju Smith and they were talking about the future of the program. They said they were trying to set it up for our class so that we are the next Alabama when we get there.
“They want to get SC back so the guys in my class just carry it further.”
Of course, with such a large recruiting window remaining for Graham, it’s reasonable to think he may double his total of scholarship offers before he signs a letter of intent in 2017.
“I’ll still be open to hearing from schools who haven’t offered,” said Graham. “Schools like LSU, Alabama, Oregon… I still want to take my five official visits.”
Still entertaining interest from other schools, Graham can already picture himself at the Rising Stars Camp next summer talking to other prospects about being a Trojan.
“I’ll always say SC is the place to be,” said Graham. “I’d also tell them to stay on their grind and don’t let anyone distract you from working hard. Be the best player you can be.”