Gerard Martinez |

Thomas Graham gets to USC and Notre Dame unofficially

If scientists could bottle the energy of four-star cornerback Thomas Graham, everyone could play in an all-day passing tournament after eight hours of travel.

Some recruits get quickly worn out by the recruiting process, and while many commit early to dodge the onslaught of visits, calls and Twitter bedlam, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) cornerback Thomas Graham did not.

Graham committed to USC last summer because that was the college he and his family envisioned him going to since he was 8-years-old. 

Make no mistake, Graham is far from worn out by recruiting. 

In fact, after unofficially visiting Notre Dame last weekend for the Irish’s Junior Day, he hopped on an early morning flight Sunday back to Los Angeles to take part in the Passing Down Tournament in Fontana (Calif.). That’s South Bend (Ind.) to Chicago (Ill.), Chicago to L.A., and L.A. to Fontana. 

“Hopefully I’m not jet lag, but I guess we’ll see,” laughed Graham. 

“Notre Dame was very fun,” Graham continued. “It was different than I’m used to because I’m a city kid. Notre Dame is in a small town just basically focused on college. 

“It’s a small population around the school, so it surprised me when they said their games have been sold out for years. It’s like, ‘How can the stadium be sold out when there’s nothing around it?’

“But it’s a blessing to have the chance to see a school where it’s just a college town. Coach [Brian] Kelly said he liked my game and wanted to get me back out for another visit. Coach [Todd] Lyght told me they don’t have much depth at corner. A lot of their guys leave early for the NFL. 

“They also discussed academics. The academics at Notre Dame are very high. They graduate 95-percent of football players and then 93-percent of African Americans, so that was crazy to hear.”

Graham traveled to South Bend with his family, but he used his trip to get a sense whether playing away from home is a viable option. 

“Even though I was with my dad, I tried to be on my own during the tour and other parts of the trip just to see how it would be to be by myself,” said Graham. “It was different. To be honest, I’ll probably be homesick no matter where I go, so I’d be coming back home as much as I could — at least in that first year.”

Gerard Martinez |

Graham will try to unofficially visit Oklahoma and LSU later this spring. He also has a trip planned with Arizona in the near future. 

While Graham made Notre Dame’s Junior Day this past weekend, he missed the Trojans' Junior Day because of track. He did, however, get a chance to watch USC practice two weeks ago for spring football. 

“I went to a Thursday practice, and that was one of those most competitive practices I’ve ever seen at USC,” said Graham. “They were flying around on defense and offense, which surprised me because they didn’t have any pads on. 

“They were smacking each other going both ways. They had a fight or two as well. It was very, very, very competitive. I wondered how physical the practices are when they do have pads on, so I’ll definitely be back up there for a scrimmage or something later in the spring.”

Barking out orders in the secondary for USC this season is new defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford. 

“I was with Coach Bradford the whole time I was up there,” said Graham. “He was very laid back, but on you at the same time. 

“He was showing me the coverages and how I would fit in with their new defense. He broke it down as much as he could and really was pushing to get me to USC.”

Graham re-opened his recruitment last winter, but has stated he remains committed to USC. That won’t change anytime soon. 

“Even if I felt like I wanted to de-commit, I wouldn’t do that,” said Graham. “My dad and I talked about it, and I really want to take my five official visits before I decided on anything else. 

“I wouldn’t want to de-commit, only to take my official visits and then decide to re-commit to USC afterward. That would be stupid. 

“I need to see how I feel on my official visits with and without my parents there. I’ll finalize my decision after those five officials and maybe announce at an all-star game because I still plan on graduating early.”

Graham will take a Pre-Calculus honors class this summer and then have five classes to take next fall in order to graduate in December. 

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