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Sleeper defender poised to emerge

To catch up with Englewood (Colo.) Cherry Creek athlete Jaeden Graham, you have to catch him between baseball practice, track practice and AP study sessions. That busy schedule will likely have to squeeze in some college coach introductions this spring. The 2014 prospect should be a popular visit during the spring evaluation period as one of the more intriguing prospects in the country.

Graham throws an 86 mile per hour fastball in baseball.

Graham has taken an interesting path to college football recruit. Graham competes in track in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, the long jump and the triple jump. He’s also a standout on Cherry Creek’s powerhouse baseball team where he has the ability to play virtually any position on the field.

Heading into his junior season in football, the 6-3, 215-pounder was the backup quarterback for his high school program, waiting his turn behind a senior starter. After dominating a junior varsity game out of necessity at fullback, the Cherry Creek coaching staff decided he was too unique athletically to leave him on the bench. On the fourth game of the season, Graham became the full-time starter at safety and he became an immediate force on defense.

That small sample size has already attracted an offer from Wyoming and interest from the likes of Stanford, BYU and Boise State. While his senior season will see Graham play on both sides of the football, the big prospect is being recruited primarily on defense for the next level, and that’s how he likes it.

“I know I’ll be playing both sides of the ball this year,” Graham said. “At Boise State they’re looking at me at outside linebacker. Most schools have been recruiting me at safety. There’s a number that want me on offense. I just really love the contact of the game. I just love the contact of football.”

The interest has been picking up lately as well. In addition to the regional programs that have been chasing Graham, he has been picking up interest of late from schools like Missouri, Indiana and UConn. However one of the earliest schools to recognize his talent was Vanderbilt.

“I’ve been talking to Coach (Ricky) Rahne,” he said. “They said they’d be stopping by to Cherry Creek soon. They want me to come to the earliest camp they have. They want me to come out a day early and see the school.”

The Vandy interest certainly interests Graham.

“Their academics are great there. Academics are the most important thing to me and the academics at Vanderbilt are phenomenal. I’ve never been to Nashville but I’d love to see what that city is all about.”

Already, Graham has taken a visit to Boise, Idaho to see the blue turf at Boise State’s spring game. The Broncos are showing as much interest as anybody at this point.

“They talked about their philosophy of recruiting,” he said of the Boise State trip. “They recruit O.K.O.Gs or Our Kind Of Guys. They put a lot of effort into finding guys that will fit into their recruiting. They talk to people that have seen me and make sure the kids that go up there are great. I know that I’ll be accountable and responsible. I know they’ll see me as an O.K.O.G. Coach (Scott) Huff said that they want me in camp. They want to see me at multiple spots.”

This summer, Graham plans to put in some effort to earn a few more offers with camp performances. He plans on visiting Vanderbilt, Colorado, Boise State and Stanford.

Currently, 247Sports rates Graham as a three-star prospect.

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