Eagles rookie Graham says he'll work hard once he gets to camp

Graham
Graham
Posted: July 10, 2010

Today, Brandon Graham will address 50 high school freshmen. He will hope to inspire them.

He will point to himself, how he emerged from the streets of Detroit to earn a scholarship to Michigan; how, encouraged by men such as he has become, he eventually thrived; how, even now, as the Eagles' first-round pick and projected starter at left defensive end, his size (6-1, 268 pounds) and his abilities are questioned.

He will tell them, "A lot of people say, 'Brandon Graham went in the first round?' "

And he will continue, "That's my motivation. Don't be mad at it; take it as motivation."

Graham spoke with the Daily News yesterday in advance of his trip to Los Angeles, where he will address 50 aspiring players at Loyola Marymount University at a clinic for the After-School All-Stars Touchdown v. Shutdown program.

He will be taking a break from the two-a-day workouts he is doing every day at Michigan in preparation for Andy Reid's hellish training camps.

Yesterday, Graham said he might miss a day or two of training camp if he remains unsigned.

A month ago, at organized team activities, Graham insisted he would not hold out.

However, he said, since then he has become better educated on the realities of negotiating first-round contracts; how, for a 13th pick, negotiations become less speculative if the 12th pick is signed, and even easier if the 14th pick is done.

"That's what my agent said," Graham said.

His agent, Joel Segal, did not return a phone call yesterday.

Even if he hasn't inked a deal, Graham will be at Lehigh, his pads off, but his notebook out.

"Even if I'm not signed, I'll be there, doing the learning part," Graham said. "I'm going to be at camp, regardless. Just to let Coach know I'm serious. If I'm not there, my starting position might be in jeopardy."

A possible holdout is another reason why Graham is working extra hard at the Michigan facilities, he said. Two hours of lifting starting at 10 a.m., then 2 more hours of cardiovascular training starting at 3 p.m.

"That's what I did before my senior year here at Michigan," Graham said.

During his senior year, despite attracting a lot of attention on a pathetic defense, Graham collected 10 1/2 sacks and 64 tackles and blocked two kicks. Still, as a former linebacker coming out of Crockett Vocation Tech, Graham's height and his stoutness - there doesn't seem to be much room for growth on his frame - give him the dimensions more regularly associated with an NFL linebacker.

He reads this sort of stuff regularly. It has made the two-a-days a little less onerous, the way it made OTAs less intimidating.

"It helped me through minicamp. I was nervous," he acknowledged. "Heck, I'm still nervous. I'm scared of the not-knowing."

So, he prepares, as he has since he showed up at Michigan about 40 pounds overweight - which precipitated his switch to defense end, also a position he played in high school.

Graham recalled that as a true freshman, he listened to former Wolverines star Larry Foote and played behind LaMarr Woodley as a freshman. They now star as Steelers linebackers. He wants to be what they were.

"I'm somebody these kids will listen to," Graham said. "I'll tell them, 'One day, come and take my job.' "

He figures he'll get more attention from the kids the more he proves his doubters wrong.

"It inspires me. A lot," Graham said. "And yeah, I'm going to be there. I'm going to show everyone the Eagles didn't waste a pick." *

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