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James Graham is the Ultimate Team Player

By Barry Every
SouthernPigskin.com
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Graham’s football prowess has led to 19 offers with the most recent coming from Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, NC State and UCF. Schools like Georgia, Georgia Southern and Tulane are recruiting him as a quarterback while most others are looking at him a pure athlete.

Over the last three seasons the Purple Hurricane of Fitzgerald have gone (38-6) with two straight trips to the GHSA-AA State Championship Game. Gone is prolific tailback JD King who is off to Oklahoma State. Also gone is Head Coach Jason Strickland who has decided to fill the vacancy at Pierce County.

But the cupboard is not bare for former Valdosta OC Tucker Pruitt who was recently named head man at Fitzgerald. Three year starting signal caller James Graham is still eligible for another season, something rival coaches are already dreading. Graham has thrown for 2,567 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career. More amazing are the 2,724 rushing yards and 37 rushing scores.

Graham’s football prowess has led to 19 offers with the most recent coming from Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, NC State and UCF. Schools like Georgia, Georgia Southern and Tulane are recruiting him as a quarterback while most others are looking at him a pure athlete.

“I like quarterback, but it really doesn’t matter what position I play in college,” Graham said. Alabama said they would give me a tryout at quarterback, but they simply want me on their team in any capacity.”

Graham has had a busy spring making unofficial visits or Junior Day stops at Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech and last week Michigan. But there are two schools yet to offer that he desires – Clemson and Florida State.

“Yeah, I haven’t narrowed my list down, but if Clemson or FSU were to offer me a scholarship, they would most certainly be in my top five,” Graham said. “Right now Coach Jeremy Pruitt of Alabama is making the biggest impression. He texts me almost every day, and I can call him anytime. He is just a real nice guy to talk too.”

Graham has had a busy off-season being a key member on the basketball team as well as one of the top 110-meter hurdle guys in GHSA-AA. So he has not had the opportunity to hit any camps to date, but he definitely plans on hitting one-day camps at Alabama, Clemson and Florida State.

“James is the best athlete that I have ever coached, JD King was the best football player, but Graham definitely the best athlete – ever,” Strickland said. “There isn’t anything he cannot do on the football field, he plays with passion and could project as a CB, QB, RB, S or WR in college.”

So with Coach Strickland gone what is in store for the Purple Hurricane this fall?

“Well I’ll admit, it was a real heartbreaker to find out Coach Strickland was leaving,” Graham said. “I just love that man, but I just have to move on. Coach Pruitt, he seems great and we are going to run Clemson’s offense so I will be throwing the ball a few more times this season. He also pushes us really hard in the weight room. I think that will get us over the hump, and we can finally win that elusive Championship.”

Coach Strickland left behind a talented team, so the decision couldn’t have been easy to leave. Graham is not the only returning star player, FBS prospects Montreil Harris and Kerrion Smith are back for their senior seasons. Let’s not forget sophomore superstars Damien Devine and Ethan Gordon, the pair combined for 1,500 yards of offense and 29 touchdowns last season.

“It was hardest telling James I was going to leave; I almost stayed versus telling him,” Strickland said. “He is the ultimate team player and very conscious about getting his teammates involved in the game. He so badly wants all the folks around him to be successful and the guy hates losing more than he loves winning. James is the dream player to coach.”

College coaches hoping to see Graham flash his on field brilliance this spring will be disappointed. The Purple Hurricane has chosen not to have a spring game, instead having two scrimmages this fall. That’s not all bad as Graham has varsity highlights longer than some Hollywood movies.