Like any top 50 prospect, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) cornerback Thomas Graham just wants to feel the love.
He wants you to want him. He needs you to need him.
But that’s not what the former USC commit felt from Trojans’ new defensive coaching staff. Though head coach Clay Helton always greeted Graham with a smile and a hug, Graham didn’t feel like he was receiving the same attention and affection from the defensive coaches he would be spending the majority of his time with in college.
Earlier this month, the No. 2 cornerback in the West had to make the difficult decision to back away from his commitment to the college he has repeatedly called his dream school. No longer is he in line to fulfill his and his sister’s childhood hope to star together in the cardinal and gold.
But could USC still be a possibility for Graham?
So what would it take for the Trojans to recapture the attention of Graham, who recently grabbed an eye-opening offer from Oregon?
“Just show change. Show that they want me, that I am a priority to them.”
Graham wants the Trojans to be genuine. He doesn’t want to be a stashed-away commit that they try to move away from late in the process and he doesn’t want to be falsely strung along by USC so that the Trojans can keep him from signing with a rival program.
“I just hope that they don't do that to me and that they actually really want me and I get a chance to show my ability there.”
Don’t mistake Graham’s desire for attention from the coaching staff as egotism or him looking for something to be handed to him. He is ready and willing to compete. That is evident any time you see him play.
“It’s fun [to go make a big offensive play] because it’s 7-on-7. It’s tough competition. I get to do it at my high school, but it’s not the same out here,” Graham said. “When it’s here, I get to do it in front of a crowd of people and show that I can play more than just DB.”
Graham has become one of the more intriguing available West Coast products because he was believed to be such a lock to USC previously. He said recruiting, since he de-committed, is going by much better than he expected.
“I thought it would be a little harder, but it's going by pretty good. The schools that were recruiting me when I was committed to USC still communicate with me now — Arizona, Colorado, Cal, Oklahoma, UCLA, LSU and Notre Dame — they still communicate with me the same as they did before so that's good. Everything else has died down. USC hasn’t really talked to me much lately.”
If the Trojans hope to get back in the mix, their efforts will need to come sooner than later since Graham is planning to be an early enrollee. But there should be some time before he makes another commitment. Graham said he isn’t planning to make a quick decision. Instead he said the earliest he would announce a decision would be November or December with an All-American in-game announcement a possibility as well.