Brandon Graham

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This article is about the American football defensive end. For the comic book artist, see Brandon Graham (comic book artist).
Brandon Graham
20081122 Brandon Graham and Terrell Pryor.jpg
No. 55     Philadelphia Eagles
Outside linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1988-04-03) April 3, 1988 (age 26)
Place of birth: Detroit, Michigan
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Weight: 274 lb (124 kg)
Career information
High school: Detroit (MI) Crockett Tech
College: Michigan
NFL Draft: 2010 / Round: 1 / Pick: 13
Debuted in 2010 for the Philadelphia Eagles
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 11, 2013
Tackles 65
Sacks 9.5
Forced Fumbles 4
Stats at NFL.com

Brandon Lee Graham (born April 3, 1988)[1] is an American football Linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Eagles in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft with the thirteenth selection in the draft and the first from the Big Ten Conference. He played college football at Michigan.

Graham was the 2009 Big Ten Conference Co-MVP as recognized by the Chicago Tribune Silver Football award. He was the 2009 FBS tackles (TFLs) for a loss (per game) champion after finishing second in 2008 by .01 TFL per game. He was the 2008 & 2009 Big Ten Conference TFL (total) champion.

After completing his career as defensive end for the 2009 Michigan Wolverines football team, he had a total of 29.5 career sacks and 56 career TFLs for the Michigan Wolverines football team. In 2008, he led the Big Ten Conference in TFLs (20 in 11 games). In 2009, he posted 26 TFLs and 10.5 sacks in 12 games. As a member of the 2008 Michigan Wolverines football team he earned Second-team 2008 Big Ten All-conference recognition from both the coaches and the media.[2] He was a finalist for the 2009 NCAA Division I FBS football Hendricks Award. He was a First-team 2009 All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media.[3] He was named to several First-team and Second-team 2009 All-America lists by various publications. Graham was also named MVP of the 2010 Senior Bowl.

In high school, he was a highly decorated and highly rated linebacker who served as captain for the 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was listed on numerous All-American lists and was a finalists for some of the highest individual honors a high school football player can earn.

Early years[edit]

As a youth, Graham played football for the Police Athletic League Detroit Giants for seven years until joining the eighth grade team.[4] Born and raised in Detroit, Graham attended Crockett Vocational Tech, a school that began participating in Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) football competitions in 1996 and that did not have a proper locker room for its football team before moving in his senior season. Since the football field had no lights, parents had to shine their car lights on the field for late practices.[5] At Crockett, Graham. who had been playing competitive football since age seven,[6] was expected to make an immediate impact upon joining the football team's starting lineup as a sophomore,[7] and at the end of the season he was recognized as an honorable mention lineman 2003 All-Detroit selection by The Detroit News.[8]

As a junior, Graham served as linebacker, offensive guard, placekicker and punter for his team, and he led his team to the MHSAA state championships, while becoming one of three juniors named to the 2004 First-team All-Detroit team with one source listing him as a placekicker and the other as a linebacker on the team.[6][9][10] Crockett won Detroit Public School League Division 1 championship game at Ford Field and entered the Division 5 MHSAA semifinals with a 12–0 record, but Crockett lost 9–0 to defending state champion Lumen Christi Catholic High School.[5][11] In addition to recording 91 tackles (20 for a loss), he maintained a 3.8 grade point average.[10] In one game, he posted twelve tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles, two blocked punts and scored on a 78-yard fake punt.[12] He was selected for the Associated Press first-team Class B all-state team as a linebacker.[13]

In high school, Rivals.com ranked Graham as the top class of 2006 high school football prospect in the state of Michigan, the number two inside linebacker prospect and the overall fifteenth best prospect in the nation.[14] Scout.com listed him as the number three linebacker in the nation and described him as the number one overall prospect in the midwest.[15] Scout also described him as "arguably the best inside linebacker in the nation".[16] ESPNU ranked him as the number two inside linebacker and number thirty-one prospect in the nation.[17] Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, listed Graham as the best linebacker in the country for USA Today.[18] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution listed him at 15th among their national top 25 prospects.[19]

Entering his senior season, he was the overwhelming selection as the best high school football player in the state of Michigan according The Detroit News.[6] He had run a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the Nike Summer football camp.[6] As a senior, he intended to also play tight end and fullback.[6] One Detroit News preseason analysts listed him at linebacker, tight end and offensive guard.[20] During the season, after missing four weeks to a knee injury, Graham was chosen as one of 78 players to participate in the January 7, 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome. He was also named as a finalist for both the Parade All-America High School player of the year (The high school equivalent of the Heisman Trophy) and the Walter Payton Trophy.[21][22] He was elected captain of the East team at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and recorded four tackles as well as a blocked field goal in the game that also featured two of his Michigan teammates: (Justin Boren and Stevie Brown).[23][24] There were only 16 finalists for the Parade award, including future Michigan teammate Stephen Schilling and future Heisman-winner Tim Tebow.[25] Graham led his team to a rematch against Lumen Christi, which they lost 35–21 in the MHSAA Division 5 district championship game.[26] In Graham's three years at Crockett, they went undefeated in the regular season and as a senior he was again selected to the All-Detroit first-team as a linebacker.[27] Graham was also selected as to the Associated Press Class B All-State football team as its player of the year.[28] The Detroit News selected him to the All-Class state Dream Team.[29] He was also selected as the All-class statewide best linebacker as part of the inaugural class of The Michigan Prep Football Great 8 awarded by the Mid-Michigan Touchdown Club for being best at his position in the state.[30] By his senior year, he had a 3.2 grade point average.[23]

Since Graham was the first Michigan athlete to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, he was not aware that he was violating Michigan state rules by participating in an out-of-state all-star game. He had to surrender his high school athletic eligibility for the winter and spring seasons. During his time away from athletics, he overate and added 40 pounds (18 kg). Although he had been recruited as a linebacker, with the additional weight he was moved to defensive end. As he lost the excess weight he began to realize that he could excel at a lighter weight.[31]

For his athletic excellence, Graham received many honors. Among the recognition he received are Parade Magazine All-American, EA Sports All-American, USA Today All-USA High School All-America first team (No. 14 player in the nation by USA Today), Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year, first player from the state of Michigan to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, 2005 Detroit News No. 1 Blue Chip prospect, and No. 2 on the Detroit Free Press Best of the Midwest rankings.[1] Additionally, he was recognized as one of ten top prep athletes in Michigan in 2005-2006, including men and women from all sports, as a 2006 McDonald's-Powerade Tomorrow's Winners honoree at the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame dinner.[32]

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
Brandon Graham
LB
Detroit, Michigan Crockett Vocational Tech (MI) 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 250.5 lb (113.6 kg) 4.65 Feb 20, 2005 
Scout:5/5 stars   Rivals:5/5 stars   247Sports: N/A    ESPN grade: 86
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 3 (LB)   Rivals: 15, 2 (ILB), 1 (MI)  ESPN: 31, 2 (ILB)
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.

Sources:

College career[edit]

Lloyd Carr era[edit]

Graham arrived at Michigan measuring 295 pounds (134 kg) and 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m).[33] Graham was initially listed as a linebacker at Michigan,[34] but before the 2006 NCAA Division I FBS football season started for the 2006 Michigan Wolverines football team he switched to defensive end.[35] Graham was (along with Greg Matthews, Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor and Stevie Brown) one of five true freshmen to play in the season opening game.[36] Graham was the backup for 2006 Lombardi Award and 2006 Ted Hendricks Award winner LaMarr Woodley.[33] Graham also performed as a reserve defensive tackle during the season.[37] Graham made his first tackle for Michigan on October 28 against Northwestern and recorded his first sack and forced fumble on November 11 against Indiana.[1]

As the 2007 Michigan Wolverines football team prepared for the 2007 NCAA Division I FBS football season, Graham got some unusual news off the field when he found out that he had been given a perfect 99 rating in the NCAA 2008 EA Sports even though his star teammates Chad Henne, Jake Long and Mike Hart had not.[38] Also, off the field, Graham was issued a ticket playing loud music in a vehicle on July 24 and missed the September 18 court date after pleading not guilty. This caused a judge to issue an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court on a disorderly conduct charge.[39] The charges were dropped under the belief that he had been misidentified.[40] At the start of training camp, he weighed 262 pounds (119 kg) and was the projected starter at defensive end.[33][41] Although projected to as the starter, Graham played sparingly in the opening game loss to two-time defending FCS champions Appalachian State Mountaineers on September 1. Head coach Lloyd Carr noted his disfavor with Graham at the start of the season: "Brandon, he needs to get focused," Carr said, "and do the things that he's capable of doing."[42] He was disappointed in Graham's efforts in practice.[43] In the third game, on September 15 against Notre Dame Graham recorded 3.5 sacks in the rivalry game to help lead Michigan to its first win of the season.[44] The following week he had 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in a victory against Penn State.[45] Over the course of the season, he started six games at defensive end.[46] He led the team in sacks with 8.5 and was second in forced fumbles with 3.[1] He ranked seventh in the Big Ten for both statistics.[47] He was a mid-season Ted Hendricks Award watch list candidate.[48]

Rich Rodriguez era[edit]

Graham in the first wave as the 2009 Michigan Wolverines football team storms into Michigan Stadium
Graham during coin toss with Tim Hiller and teammates Carlos Brown, Zoltan Mesko and Mark Ortmann.

Graham, who had been troubled by conditioning issues the prior season arrived at spring practice in very good shape, which pleased newly arrived head coach Rich Rodriguez,[49] who was welcomed by a defensive line composed entirely of returning starters, including Graham.[50] Graham began the 2008 NCAA Division I FBS football season as a Hendricks award watch list candidate for the 2008 Michigan Wolverines football team.[51] However, the team began the season unranked in the Associated Press poll for the first time in 23 years.[52] On September 27 Graham had 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles against the Wisconsin Badgers,[53] and he was named Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Week.[54] Prior to the October 25 Paul Bunyan Trophy game against Michigan State, Graham guaranteed a victory. Although the team lost 35–21, Graham again recorded three sacks.[55] Graham finished the season with 10 sacks.[56] He led the Big Ten with 20 tackles for a loss (TFL) and 1.82 TFLs per game and was second with 0.91 sacks/game.[57] He ranked second nationally in tackles for loss and tied for eleventh in sacks.[58][59] After the season, he was recognized as a 2008 Second-team All-Big Ten Conference selection by both the coaches and the media.[2] Graham was selected as the team Most Valuable Player.[60]

Theo Riddick carries the ball as Graham breaks through the line during 2009 Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry game.
Graham on 2009 Fan Day

Graham began the 2009 NCAA Division I FBS football season as a watch lists candidate for the Bednarik Award, Hendricks Award, Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy, and Nagurski Trophy for the 2009 Michigan Wolverines football team.[61] He was also selected by ESPN as the 10th best player in the Big Ten Conference before the season started.[62] He concluded the season as the Chicago Tribune Silver Football recipient as the Big Ten co-MVP (with Daryll Clark). He was the seventh defensive player to earn the award and second in the last 25 years as well as the first co-recipient.[63] Graham was the first player from a losing team in eight years and only the second player to win who was not either Big Ten offensive or defensive player of the year.[64] He posted 26 TFLs in 12 games, which led the nation with 2.17 average tackles for a loss per game (ahead of conference rival O'Brien Schofield who was second with 1.884).[65][66] His total of 10.5 sacks ranked fourth in the Big Ten Conference.[66] Four times during the season, he recorded multiple sack games and he had three solo TFLs in four games. He ended his career at Michigan with 9 TFLs (8 solo and 2 assists) in his final two games, including a career-high 5 solo TFLs against Ohio State in the 2009 rivalry game, which was the final game of his career.[67] Graham was one of seven finalists for the Hendricks Award.[68] At the conclusion of the season he was a 2009 First-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media.[3] He was a First-team 2009 College Football All-America Team selection by ESPN, Rivals.com and Scout.com,[69][70][71] and he was a Second-team All-American defensive line selection by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, College Football News and The Sporting News.[72][73][74][75][76] He was an honorable mention All-American by Pro Football Weekly (which had no second team).[77] Graham was again selected as the team MVP,[78] which made him the school's first defensive player to be two-time MVP.[1] As of December 2009, Graham was the only Big Ten player on Mel Kiper's "Big Board" Top 25.[64] Brandon Graham earned MVP honors at the January 30, 2010 Senior Bowl with five tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble.[79]

Professional career[edit]

Pre-draft[edit]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 1 in 268 lb 32¼ in 9⅞ in 4.72 s 31 reps
All values from NFL Combine[80]

At the NFL Combine, Graham ranked 8th among defensive linemen with a 4.72 40-yard dash and 10th in the bench press with 31.[81][82]

Philadelphia Eagles[edit]

Brandon Graham pressures the Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning during a 2010 game.

Graham was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles 13th overall after trading up in the 2010 NFL Draft. Graham decided to wear number 94 for the Eagles immediately after the draft,[83] but changed his mind and chose number 54.[84] Graham shares the same sports agent (Joel Segal) as former teammate Michael Vick.[31] He was the first Big Ten Conference player selected in the 2010 NFL Draft. He agreed to terms on a five-year contract on July 29, 2010.[85] Graham recorded his first NFL sack against the Detroit Lions in a week 2 win on September 19, 2010.[86] After suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a week 14 game against the Dallas Cowboys, Graham was placed on the injured reserve list on December 14.[87] He underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee on December 21.[88] Graham was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list on July 28, 2011, before the start of training camp.[89] He was removed him from the physically unable to perform list so he could return to practice on October 24 and activated on November 5, 2011.[90] In 2013, Graham moved from defensive end to linebacker.[91][92] Many people had predicted he would become a linebacker at the pro level back when he was still in college.[93]

References[edit]

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  93. ^ Birkett, Dave (2010-04-21). "NFL draft: At linebacker or defensive end, Brandon Graham should make an impact in NFL". AnnArbor.com. Retrieved 2013-05-31. 

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