Smiling Graham glad to be a Bird

The Eagles selected defensive end Brandon Graham with the 13th pick in the first round of the NFL draft. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)

Brandon Graham said his love for football began as a 7-year-old after he quit the game following a big hit from a 10-year-old that left him with a stinger and in tears.

“I quit my first year because I got hit real hard,” he said. “My dad always talked to me about quitting and I told him that I am going to learn to love this game. I’ve been loving it ever since.”

And the Eagles are loving him, after trading up in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday to select the Michigan defensive end.

Asked about the trade, Graham said, “It showed me they have a lot of things they see in me that I bring to the Philadelphia Eagles. I want to show them I know how to play the game of football. Ilm going to go out there and be a coachable kid and try to learn everything the coaches try to do to be a part of the team.”

Graham smiled throughout his press conference at the NovaCare Complex.

“I just like to smile,” he said. “That don’t mean I ain’t going to get the job done. I’m going to go out there and give it my all. I’ll hit somebody and smile right over them and let them know I’m coming back the next play.”

Graham said he has been hearing from a lot of people since he was selected.

“(Getting) a lot of texts. My phone is probably dead right now from all the phone calls. I’ve been excited all morning. I called my mom more than 10 times already to let her know every experience from the time I got off the plane to this right now.”

Coach Andy Reid described Graham as relentless after his selection. Graham was asked about that.

“It comes from fighting for a cause bigger than me,” he said. “When we go out there on the field, I’ve got to be relentless, working for a cause, trying to win a championship. Got a lot of goals and trying to accomplish them. That’s why I go out there relentless.”

Graham was a linebacker in high school and said he ballooned to 300 pounds between the end of his high school season and heading to Michigan. He is listed as 268 and hopes to play in the 260-265 range.