Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2016 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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PREP PROFILES Notre Dame has stolen recruits from USC before. Now the Irish have positioned themselves to do it once again. R a n c h o C u c a m o n g a ( C a l i f . ) High cornerback Thomas Graham d e c o m m m i t t e d from the Trojans April 7. That came just three weeks after he visited South Bend for N o t r e D a m e ' s J u n i o r D a y March 19. Graham, who o r i g i n a l l y g a v e a verbal pledge to the Trojans the summer of 2015, said the day he left Notre Dame that both he and his fa- ther enjoyed everything about the visit. "It was a very good experience," Graham said. "Most of the coaches were very good to me." Graham spent much of the trip alongside defensive backs coach Todd Lyght, and according to the na- tion's No. 6-ranked cornerback that gave him a better idea of what Notre Dame is all about. "He was being straightforward about everything," Graham said. "Coach Lyght told me how it is at Notre Dame. It's not easy, but he did say that it will set you up for the next three to four years. The players take so much summer school that they can graduate in three years. You don't have to return to college for an extra year or come back after your career to get a degree. You can have your degree on the ta- ble for NFL scouts and coaches when they try to sign you to a contract. "The academic degree from Notre Dame carries so much weight," he added. "You and s o m e b o d y e l s e can have the same exact standards, but since your de- gree is from Notre Dame they aren't beating you out for that job unless they have a degree from the Ivy League." While the Irish appear to be in the driver 's seat to land Graham given his comments, his father said the family isn't in a rush to make a deci- sion following the decommitment. The plan is to return to Notre Dame for an official visit during the season and give other schools like UCLA, Arizona, Utah and LSU a look. "Notre Dame is going to get an official visit out of me," Graham said. "I liked it more than I thought I would. I didn't think it would be as fun and as good as it was. I'm glad I took the visit." — Andrew Ivins Irish In The Mix For Ex-USC Commit THOMAS GRAHAM ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Rancho Cucamonga Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Status: Offered Class: 2017 Position: Cornerback Ht.: 5-10 • Wt.: 173 40-Yard Dash: 4.61 Rivals Rankings: No. 7 prospect in California, and No. 6 cornerback and No. 53 overall re- cruit nationally

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