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When I asked him was he ready to start, his southern lingo mixed with passion and excitement formed the word yes. He answered every question with no hesitation which proved his eagerness to tell his story of his love for football.
James Graves II is a senior linebacker for Central Arkansas from Bassfield, Mississippi. Standing 6’1″ 232 lbs, Graves is still the baby of three children (two sisters).
As a small child, Graves played Pee Wee football and never stopped loving the game. “When I played pee wee football, I was big back then playing defensive tackle,” mentioned Graves.
Graves never stopped playing defense and grew to love it each game. Getting his athleticism from his parents (mom played basketball and dad played football in college), it’s easy to see that the game comes natural to him. Yet still, his athleticism is only part of why he has been so successful playing the game he loves.
“My best attribute is being able to diagnose plays on the field,” states Graves. He has an uncanny knack for being able to beat the lineman and sometimes the running back to where the play is going. His agility and tenacity is the perfect match that creates his ability to interrupt offensive schemes.
His lateral quickness helps him shed blocks and his strength overpowers most offensive linemen. Looking at his skill set, you can see why he admires a certain player in the NFL. “My favorite player in the NFL is [Minnesota Vikings’] Eric Kendricks. He’s very instinctive, hit you hard and has great ball skills,” says Graves. His 70 tackles this year displayed the similarities to Kendricks.
There was a time where most didn’t believe in his ability, especially Division I schools. The athletic linebacker didn’t get the recognition he felt was warranted. He eventually was recruited by Alabama State University. Although glad about getting the opportunity to play college football, Graves knew he could play on a bigger stage.
“I felt like I should have went straight to Division I out of high school so I decided to take a chance and go to [Junior College] so I could get better offers,” remembers Graves. He attended Mississippi Gulf Coast CC with the plan to shine and play his way to a better offer.
After betting on himself, he was able to get that offer to Central Arkansas University. Graves understands that this wasn’t just a solo act. “My parents and sisters supported me through this process an has always been there for me,” stated Graves. His family has been his strength throughout his college years.
After having a successful college career and excelling at Central Arkansas, Graves was invited to play in the FCS Bowl, which was held in Daytona, Florida on December 10th.
Graves knows this is nowhere near the end and that there is more hard work ahead. “I’m going to train, work my butt off an make sure I am ready for Pro Day and Regional Combines,” stated Graves. He realizes that he has a great opportunity that lies in front of him whether NFL or CFL.
Here’s Graves Highlight Video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5Qn92KgDrc&t=264s