May 17, 2007

Graham in shape to replace Woodley

Teammate after teammate, coach after coach -- asked who had the best spring and is on the cusp of superstardom this fall -- consistently offered one name: sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Graham. The former five-star linebacker stopped by his high school coach's office earlier this month and had lots to talk about …

It's been an interesting year for Graham. Though he was rated the nation's No 2 inside linebacker by Rivals.com, Graham never saw a down at the position in 2006 even though he appeared in 11 of 13 games. Instead, he played with his hand on the ground, both at defensive end and at defensive tackle.

"Even before he got there, Brandon knew he was probably going to play on the defensive line," Detroit Crockett coach Rod Oden said. "He was bigger than 250 pounds when he graduated high school, and I think the plan all along, though this wasn't really discussed, was for him to kind of do what LaMarr Woodley did as a freshman - move from linebacker to defensive line."

Wanting to play right away, Graham made the decision to put on as much weight as he could so that he had the size to play tackle, not end. The way he figured it, there was no way he was going to see playing time over Woodley, or fellow ends Rondell Biggs and Tim Jamison. His plan of attack worked initially, with Graham getting up to 280 pounds by the time the season ended. However, that size would work against him as the spring began.

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