I was finally able to catch up with former Pitt running back Ray Graham yesterday as he prepares for the NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis. Here's a link to today's P-G story about Graham and other local players who are getting ready to show off their skills to scouts and general managers this weekend.
I also, though, spoke to Graham about the conclusion of his Pitt career, which ended in disappointing fashion as a hamstring injury forced him to watch from the sidelines during the Panthers' BBVA Compass Bowl loss. Here's what Graham had to say...
On missing the bowl game (Graham injured his hamstring during bowl practices in late December): "I didn't want to end my last game not playing. All the hard work from the last two games that we put in to get into a bowl game, then not being able to play. It's disappointing on my behalf. I did everything I could to go out there and play, I really wanted to play, but I didn't want to make things worse for my future ... I try to avoid as many injuries as I can. That little tweaked hamstring came about and there's nothing I could do about it."
On his four years at Pitt: "I feel it was a great experience. We've been through a lot, gone through a lot. I feel like being at Pitt has only made me a stronger person, a better football player. I learned a lot."
On whether he thought he proved everything he wanted to coming off the ACL injury that ended his junior year: "I felt I could've had a better senior year. I got off to a slow start the first couple of games. I came along at the end of the season. I felt like I definitely could've done better. Me, I'm never a satisfied person. I just feel like I always could get better somewhere."
Graham will also be participating at Pitt's pro day, which should be during the first week in March. I think Graham's a guy who could significantly boost his draft stock between now and April. If you factor in that he was basically working his way back into form during most of the first half of the year, he really only hit 100 percent about midway through the season (and you could tell when he did). If he shows scouts and GMs that he's totally healthy and ready to go at the Combine and pro day, no reason he can't creep up into maybe the third round or so.