By Morgan Bryce
Opelika Chiefs backup quarterback and wide receiver Raymond Graham inked a football scholarship with Faulkner University of Montgomery last Friday.
A former gridiron star at 3A Central-Coosa High School in Rockford, Graham said he expects to line up in the slot receiver position for the Eagles in the fall.
“Signing with Faulkner was an easy decision, (because) it felt just like home. Being able to play on the collegiate level is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid,” Graham said.
Originally a cornerback, Graham moved to offense during high school, playing quarterback in the Cougar’s spread, read-option attack.
Standing at 5’7’’ and 160 pounds, Graham’s low center of gravity, speed and elusiveness helped him flourish in the system.
His breakout moment came during his senior season last fall, compiling gaudy stats that wowed collegiate scouts.
Through the air, Raymond accumulated 1,352 yards passing and 17 touchdowns, rushed for 1,626 yards and 24 more scores, as well as returning kickoffs and punts, altogether compiling 3,399 yards of total offense. The Cougars also finished with a 5-5 season record, one of the best in recent school history.
To improve his football skillset and compete against stiffer competition, Graham joined the Chiefs this season, contributing at quarterback and wide receiver.
The Chiefs are a member of the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League, which exists to connect aspiring football players like Graham to either collegiate or professional playing opportunities.
Through 12 games, Graham has 11 receptions for 148 yards, 28 carries for 117 yards and is 10 of 20 passing with 221 yards and three TDs.
J.D. Atkins, Chiefs’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, said Graham has shown continual growth on and off the field this season, and is poised for a stellar career.
“I really think that Raymond Graham can do whatever Raymond Graham wants to do, as long as he works at it. He’s the type of kid, that if you put something in front of him, he’s going to find a way to get it done,” Atkins said.
For now, Graham said he is focused on finishing this season with the Chiefs and preparing to play at Faulkner in the fall, but still has a dream of playing on the sport’s highest level.
“Playing in the NFL is my ultimate dream, my ultimate goal. College is going to be something I can use to help me get there,” Graham said.
Though he is undecided, Graham said he will likely choose to major in business at Faulkner.
Photo by Robert Noles/Opelika Observer