Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Former Local Stars Hope to Stand Out

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Former Local Stars Hope to Stand Out

Article excerpt

Ray Graham's Pitt career ended in disappointing fashion when he sat out the BBVA Compass Bowl with a hamstring injury, but he's ready to move on and get his professional career off to a fast start this week.

Graham is one of more than 300 hopefuls -- and the only Pitt player -- who will try to impress scouts and general managers this week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

"I'm feeling good, feeling the best I've felt yet," Graham said. "I'm ready to go. I'm ready to shock the world, prove to the world what they've been missing."

As a senior, Graham rushed for 1,077 yards and 11 touchdowns. He graduated as the second-leading rusher (3,306 yards) in Pitt history, behind only Tony Dorsett.

Since the bowl game, Graham has trained with other draft prospects -- including his brother, former Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene -- at Ignition Athletics Performance Group in Naples, Fla.

Graham said the injury that forced him out of the bowl game has healed and he will participate in all combine workouts and running back position drills.

"[I want to] show them that I can catch the ball real well, I've got great feet, I can move good [and] in and out of holes fast," he said. "Just try to do it all there."

Graham's biggest goal is to get his 40-yard dash time in the 4.4- second range. He said he has been around 4.5 seconds in training.

Most draft projections have Graham, who had a season-ending ACL injury his junior year, going in the mid to late rounds of April's draft. A strong showing at the combine, though, could boost his stock significantly.

"I haven't really heard anything," Graham said of his draft positioning. "I try to stay away from that until everything is done. Once I get through it, I'll just talk to my agent, see what's going on so I can really get a little feel of everything and where I'll be going."

While Graham is the only Pitt player headed to Indianapolis, he will be joined by several other players from area schools.

Four West Virginia players have been invited, including quarterback Geno Smith and receiver Tavon Austin. Many draft analysts predict both could be first-round selections. …

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