Thomas Graham Explains USC Decommitment

    Thomas Graham decommitted from USC eight months after pledging to the Trojans. The 4-star cornerback explains what went wrong and which schools are showing him the most love.

    April 7, 2016

    Thomas Graham decommitted from USC eight months after pledging to the Trojans. The 4-star cornerback explains what went wrong and which schools are showing him the most love.

    It was a no-brainer. The Grahams were a Trojan family, and there were no plans to change.

    Thomas and Tamisha Graham were going to double down by watching their daughter Jasmyne compete for the USC Women’s track and field team, all while their son Thomas Graham Jr. showed out for the Trojans on the gridiron.

    That was until a recruiting blunder by the Trojans left the younger Graham questioning his childhood team. The 4-star recruit told Campus Insiders that USC’s staff went weeks without reaching out to him.

    “It was a lack of communication between me and the coaches,” Graham attributed as the reason he decommitted. “It’s not that I still don’t have interest in USC, I just felt like it was best for me to open up my options for every school out there.”

    Trojans secondary coach Ronnie Bradford called on Tuesday to apologize for the ball being dropped, but Graham decided to follow through on his decommitment.

    The road to Graham’s decision began with Steve Sarkisian’s firing in October. Though it wasn’t a deal breaker, his dismissal was, in fact, the first domino to fall.

    With Sarkisian gone, defensive backs coach Keith Heyward and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox were eventually shown the door, too. Graham knew the writing was on the wall when two of the coaches he talked to the most were let go.

    “[Sarkisian’s firing] didn’t have an impact on me. I think the Coach Heyward and Coach Wilcox firings had the bigger impact,” he said. “[Sarkisian’s] defensive dudes were gone. That took me off of being a [new staff] recruit, and I realized I’m really more of an old coaching staff recruit.”

    Graham’s cellphone wasn’t quiet for long. As many as nine schools reached out to him by the end of the day on Wednesday, and while he isn’t ready to name favorites, his interest was sparked by seven of them.

    “[There are] no leaders yet. Arizona, Utah, UCLA, Colorado, LSU, Oklahoma and Arizona State have shown the most love,” he said. “All of them are different. All of them are bringing something different to the table.”

    Oregon State and Tennessee have worked to establish a connection, too.

    There are also a handful of schools that interest Graham, though they have yet to show love. Chiefly among them: Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, Nebraska, Florida and Florida State.

    The Seminoles are an interesting member of the conversation thanks to their eight defensive backs selected in the last six drafts, and another, Jalen Ramsey, vying to become the first true defensive back to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick. It’s Ramsey whom Graham models his game after.

    “I can play both corner and safety, and play it well,” he said before adding how he prefers cornerback.”[Playing safety] helped me realize how it feels when I’m at corner … doing the little things differently – helped me appreciate the position.”

    The 6-foot, 180-pound prospect is the No. 5 cornerback and No. 44 overall recruit in the 2017 class. While Graham and USC have temporarily cooled, the Trojans still have a chance because of his family ties to the university.

    And while that closeness to the university may weigh on his decision, it’s one of many factors. Graham’s parents “want [him] to grow” during the experience, and they have instilled that sports are only part of the equation. While he’s being recruited to play football, he’s fully aware the purpose of college is “to prepare you for the real world.” 

    Quite the rounded view from one of the nation’s top recruits, now out on the open market.

    Note: Scout rankings and ratings used in this article.

    MORE: 5-Star Defensive End Is Leading A Recruiting Charge


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