When Mason Graham, 6’4 ” and 295 pounds, begins to approach the quarterback menacingly, he looks like one of those old steam engines picking up speed. Any obstacle in the way will be crushed and there will be no loud whistle warning of an impending collision.
With 10 sacks for the undefeated Anaheim Servite (8-0), Graham established himself as California’s top two-way lineman in match number 1 Santa Ana Mater Dei (6-0) against number 2 on Saturday night. Brothers at the Santa Ana stadium.
He will be the last high school applicant to leave California for college when he enters Michigan in January.
There is no one to blame but the recruiters themselves.
Every recruiter who came to talk to Coach Troy Thomas received the same message.
“Dude, he’s a gambler,” Thomas told them.
Get Our High School Sports Newsletter
Prep Rally is dedicated to the sports experience at SoCal High School, bringing you the results, stories, and behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
From time to time, you may receive promotional material from the Los Angeles Times.
Graham was a two-time Trinity League Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. But only a few Mountain West schools wanted him to play football, so in July he went to Boise State because the Broncos did their homework and recognized his potential.
When this season kicked off and Graham began to stack the sacks, Michigan stepped in. Graham changed his commitment in September. Oregon and USC then offered scholarships.
They were late. He still answers calls from recruiters trying to convince him to change his mind because he is such a respectful, humble teenager – but he said he was preparing to leave for Michigan in January.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Graham said of the hiring process. “You never know what’s going to happen. Things are always changing. “
Thomas always knew what he had in Graham.
“I would be surprised if there was another two-way line player as good as he is,” he said. “The line of defense, he’s great. Offensive line, he’s really good. He is a technically reliable defensive lineman with excellent athletic ability. “
One big question to be answered on Saturday is whether Graham can continue his no-play philosophy against the big physical team Mater Dei. Some expect him and the Monks to be exhausted by the fourth quarter because they have more two-sided players than Monarchs. Just understand that Graham and his teammates have been preparing for this challenge for weeks.
“I am glad that all of our guys are mostly healthy,” he said. “We wanted to play their best against them, have a good battle between two good teams and see who wins.”
Graham sees football training and games as a breeze compared to the challenges of wrestling.
“It’s much harder than football,” he said. “You have no free time. You fight for six minutes straight. “
Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson admits how effective Graham has become for the brothers.
“He’s strong,” Rollinson said. “He has a motor and plays every game diligently. You can say that children draw energy from his efforts. “
Perhaps the next time recruiters come to Servite, they’ll listen to Thomas.
“We told them, ‘He’s a great player,’” Thomas said.
Now everyone believes him.