Graham Getting His Chance

Some fans have said he hasn’t had a fair shake. He’s never been given the opportunity to see what he can do. He could bring a spark to the offense. Saturday A.J. Graham will get his long awaited chance to see what he can do as the starting quarterback for the Thundering Herd. Graham was announced as The Herd’s starter during Head Coach Doc Holliday’s weekly news conference Tuesday afternoon. 
A.J. Graham will make his first start Saturday. He’s 12 of 20 passing for 120 yards in his career at Marshall.

“He’s going to get a chance to play and we’ll see how he does. We’re going to find out Saturday what Graham can do in the starting role and I think that is the right, fair thing to do,” said Holliday. 

Graham was a heralded recruit when he arrived on Marshall’s campus. Former Head Coach Mark Snyder had wooed the prospect out of the sunshine state where he had been named Mr. Football and the Florida Class AAA Player of the Year. Graham actually drummed up much of the same excitement from Herd fans that Rakeem Cato received when he arrived on campus this season. Graham had led his team to a Florida state championship game, threw for 3,870 yards and 38 touchdowns, and ran for 564 yards and ten more scores. He had chosen Marshall over schools with more name recognition such as Clemson, Illinois and Kansas State.
Since then we’ve heard very little from the quarterback who has always possessed a ton of potential. He was redshirted in 2009. Then in 2010 the head coach who had recruited him to campus was out the door and he would have to prove himself all over again to new Head Coach Doc Holliday.
Graham appeared to have done just that as The Herd worked its way through Holliday’s first season at the helm. Holliday and the offensive staff started to work Graham into games and it appeared that Graham was picking up the offense and feeling more comfortable as he saw limited action. Then Graham suffered a high ankle sprain on October 2nd against Southern Miss and he had to start all over again. When Graham was injured, he had completed 10 of 12 for 95 yards.
The ankle injury sidelined Graham for the rest of the season and even bothered him in spring practice. Holliday was hoping Graham or Eddie Sullivan, the only other returning quarterback on the roster, would take a firm grip on the starting quarterback job by the end of spring drills. That didn’t happen and when Rakeem Cato arrived on campus in August everyone took notice, including A.J. Graham.
Even thought Cato won the starting job coming out of preseason practice, Graham had stepped up his game as well, being pushed by the true freshman. Holliday remarked during fall practice that it was probably the best camp he’d seen from Graham.
Now Graham will get his chance on Saturday to prove he can be a D-1 starting quarterback. Players will often carry a little chip on their shoulder when they are passed over for a starting role.   Expect Graham to have that chip and some fire and hunger in his eyes after sitting on the sidelines for the past two seasons. 
Follow Dave on Twitter @wvmetro_dwilson. E-mail comments to

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