Offensive guard Connor Graham of Western Harnett signed to play college football at Methodist on Thursday at the high school. He was surrounded by family, coaches and school administrators.
“Connor has meant a lot to the program,” said Western football coach Blake Culbertson. “He was the captain of our team, all-conference player. We kind of went as Connor went.”
Graham, who has collegiate size at 6-feet, 1-inch and 295 pounds, was a leader on and off the field.
“He was the main one in the weight room,” Culbertson said. ” … If somebody wasn’t working out, he got on them.”
Culbertson played at Coastal Carolina and knows what it takes at the next level.
“I see him doing well,” said the Eagles coach. “His fundamentals are there. The technique is there.”
Graham is grateful that his career will continue.
“I’m just blessed that I can play at the next level and I can continue doing what I love,” he said. “Football is my only love, pretty much. I started playing flag football when I was five or six in Sanford. I played on the Sting. I’ve always played since then. I love football.”
Graham wants to study physical education at Methodist and hopes to coach football.
“The coaches I’ve had have really helped me get to where I’m at,” Graham said. “I just love being here. This feels like home to me.”
Western Harnett Middle School coach Buck Womack was on hand for Graham’s signing ceremony.
“In middle school, he was just great,” Graham said of Womack. “When we did our banquet, he said I was like a son to him. I feel like I connected with him when I was there at middle school.”
Womack offered some perspective on Graham’s development. Graham’s dad, Brian Graham, is principal at Highland Middle School.
“He first got established with his family support system,” Womack said. “He’s got a strong family support system. A lot of kids have that opportunity but they don’t take advantage of it — making the best out of who they are at that age. Connor took his training and made it into the man he is right now.
“When he played for me, I could always count on him. He was always going to be at the right place, doing the right thing. He was the leader on the field. A lot of times, they say the quarterback is the leader. To me, it was the center. He took control of that line. I never had to worry a day about him not giving me all he had. He was that role model for other kids to follow.”
Graham played center in middle school and subsequently moved to right guard in high school.