Tuesday, October 21, 2014
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Meet your newest Eagle

When he was seven years old, Brandon Graham quit football.

Meet your newest Eagle

"I like to hit people," Brandon Graham, the Eagles´ first-round pick in the NFL draft, said today. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)
"I like to hit people," Brandon Graham, the Eagles' first-round pick in the NFL draft, said today. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)

When he was seven years old, Brandon Graham quit football.

"I got knocked out," Graham said. "I was running the ball and [an opposing player] was playing defense. He'd been there. He was ten years old and I was seven. And he ran right through me. I had a stinger. I got up and I walked off. And then I told coach, 'I don't know if I'm ready for this game.'

"My daddy was mad at me. I ended up talking to him. We cried -- well, I cried. And he brought me back out the following year and I told him, 'I'm not going to quit.'"

Graham became the newest Eagle -- at least until tonight's second round of the NFL draft -- when the team traded up for the Michigan defensive end Thursday night. He was at the NovaCare Complex Friday and he recalled the moment he devoted himself to football.

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Eagletarian: Next up: Secondary and resetting the board

He never quit the game again, but he did have some ups and downs.

In his senior year of high school, Graham was picked to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and he went to the game in San Antonio. The problem was the Michigan high school athletic association forbade its athletes from playing in out-of-state all-star games.

"So they suspended me from all spring sports," Graham said.

He balooned up to 300 pounds and entered Michigan overweight. He had too many late-night binges.

"I used to eat out a lot," Graham said. "I used to eat grilled chicken pitas from Coney Island real late -- chili dogs, chili cheese, chili everything. But ever since I started seeing the importance of weight and the importance of how you got to treat your body, I started to do that better."

A high school linebacker, the Wolverines moved Graham to defensive end when he arrived overweight. He got down to 290 by the end of his freshman year and after he recorded 3.5 sacks against Notre Dame in the first game of his sophomore season the light went off.

He trimmed down to a lean 265 pounds by the end of the season and has stayed there ever since. He went on to have an All-American career with the Wolverines even though they weren't very good in his final two years. Michigan kept losing, but Graham found reason to continue playing hard.

"I like to hit people," Graham said. "Sometimes you might be having a bad day, but when [you're] in practice and you hit somebody it's like a stress reliever."

Graham smiled throughout almost the entire 15-minute press conference.

"I like to smile but that don't mean I ain't gonna get the job done," he said. "I'll hit somebody and smile right over him and let him know I'm coming back the next play."

After the interview, Graham shook the hand of almost every media member. Earlier, he met former Eagle Hugh Douglas, the defensive end Reid compared Graham to in both size and play. The 6-foot-1, 268-pound Graham has heard critiques about his height. Douglas played at around 6-2, 280 pounds.

"You look taller than me," Douglas joked.

 

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
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