UNH alum Corey Graham a reason to root for Ravens
From The Bullpen
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 16:02
The biggest day in American professional sports is only two days away. That’s right folks, Super Bowl Sunday is finally here and all of the storylines surrounding this event are clogging up my Twitter feed. Something about Ray Lewis and deer antlers? The Harbaugh brothers are swapping practice facilities? Randy Moss: the self-proclaimed greatest receiver to play the game? It’s the most critical point of the NFL season and absolutely everything will be over analyzed.
Whether you throw on a Ravens or a 49ers cap come Sunday evening, good luck to you. And for those of you who do not feel partial to either team, just do this: root for Corey Graham.
Why? Because he is Wildcat just like you. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Graham spent his college years at the University of New Hampshire playing under current head coach Sean McDonnell.
Coach McDonnell recalls Graham as a very determined individual coming into UNH, one who was driven by his competitive nature.
Graham did not receive prime strength training in high school, and his performance on the football field mostly came from his natural athleticism. When he arrived at UNH, Graham competed hard in the weight room, putting everything he had into his strength and conditioning.
“Corey just wanted to be the best,” McDonnell said. “He is a fantastic kid. Great in the weight room as well as the classroom.”
Graham played several roles on the team during his time at UNH as a special teams player receiving kick offs and punts as well as playing defensive back. He was named a co-captain during his senior season.
At UNH, Graham compiled 302 career tackles and 12 interceptions, three of which were turned into touchdowns.
After graduating from UNH, Graham was drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears.
McDonnell said that Corey’s athleticism was what intrigued scouts the most.
In Chicago, Graham contributed as a special teamer, working towards his goal of making the defensive squad. In 2011, Graham was named to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player.
“It’s a dream come true for a small town kid from Buffalo,” McDonnell said.
During the 2012 offseason, Graham signed a contract as a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens. He continued as a special teams player until Lardarius Webb, a cornerback with the Ravens, tore his ACL in week six against the Dallas Cowboys.
This gave Graham an opportunity to make a big impact on the defense.
Graham has started every game since week 10, including the postseason. In the AFC divisional round against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, Graham recorded eight tackles and picked off Manning twice, one of which went for a pick-six.
And then two weeks ago, on a windy day in Foxboro, Mass., Graham took the field with the Baltimore Ravens to face the New England Patriots for the AFC Championship. Graham had 11 tackles against the team so many of his college friends called their favorite in the NFL.
McDonnell had just spoken with Graham a few days following the AFC Championship game.
“Corey thought playing the Pats was the bomb,” McDonnell said with a laugh.
In the Super Bowl game, I think the 49ers will win 35-28. Despite this, I will be rooting for Corey Graham beyond this Super Bowl and you should too, because we are all Wildcats.
“I wish him great luck,” McDonnell said. “He is a true Wildcat.”