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Playing QB always seemed to be his calling

By Stephen Tsai

LAST UPDATED: 08:00 p.m. HST, Aug 28, 2013


Football does not have critics as much as it has cynics.

And they are out there, cloaked in anonymity, disguising themselves with aliases on message boards and Kleenex-over-the-mouthpiece voices on call-in shows. Their mantra this summer is whether Taylor Graham — the Hawaii quarterback with good manners and mannerisms — can absorb a hit after not starting a game in two years at Ohio State and then a redshirt season with the Rainbow Warriors.

That question actually was addressed in January 2012, his first month in Hawaii and several weeks after Norm Chow was named as head coach. That was when Graham learned Sandy's undertow is more unforgiving than any pass-rusher.

"Typical mainland arrogance thinking he can swim in any water," Graham said, smiling. "That's how I almost drowned. Sandy's Beach. That's vicious. I won't go into much detail. But, maybe, there was some arm-waving."

The story embodied Graham's undercurrent of confidence, unwavering faith, and the willingness to learn from mistakes. Asked why Graham will start in the opener against USC, Chow listed the powerful right arm, the smooth motion, the command of the huddle and …

"Taylor Graham has the ‘It' factor," Chow said. "He's a leader. He's smart."

Quarterbacks coach Jordan Wynn noted Graham spends hours in the football office studying videos. "He's up there every night watching his opponent," Wynn said.

In turn, teammates are looking to Graham. "His peers selected him as a leader," Wynn said. "He did a good job of taking over."

As a former starting quarterback at Utah, Wynn offered this advice to Graham: "The main thing is to be yourself."

Graham said: "Players know if you're faking it. For myself, being a little more vocal doesn't mean I have to talk all the time. It also doesn't mean I have to be quiet all the time. You have to pick your places where you want to put your comments and your encouragements."

Graham has competed in many sports from basketball to racquetball, but football has had the strongest grip.

"In second grade, my first time playing football, I was a tight end," Graham recalled. "Ever since then, I always wanted to be quarterback. Naturally, it was because of who my dad was."

Kent Graham was an NFL quarterback for 11 seasons.

"There was no pressure," Taylor Graham said of his parents. "If I didn't want to play football, they were OK with that. For some reason, though, I had a passion for it at a very young age."

For Graham, football is second in importance to his Christian faith. "I grew up in a Christian home," Graham said. "When I was 3, I accepted Christ."

Graham attends a nondenominational Christian church in Kaimuki. He also is a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

"There is a misconception Christians are, maybe, a little softer or not as aggressive," Graham said. "That's not the case at all. As a Christian, you believe God has given you talents and abilities for a reason. You want to use those to glorify God. This might be a simple analogy, but if your parents give you a present, you don't want it to sit on the shelf. They want you to use it and enjoy it, the same way God has given us all talents and abilities. He wants us to use them."

To be sure, Graham has worked on developing his skills. One goal was to become more mobile. Strength coaches Tommy Heffernan and then Gary Beemer crafted a program of more nutritional meals and intensive workouts.

"Cutting fat and building muscle is the best way to say it," Graham said. "I've dropped 15, 20 pounds since I got here. I was a bigger boy back then. That's a credit to coach Heffernan and coach Beemer."

Graham does admit to a daily temptation. "I have a sweet tooth," Graham said. "It's ice cream. I'm a meat-and-potatoes-and-ice-cream guy."

At a recent practice, Graham was quick to notice that former NFL lineman Aaron Taylor, the television analyst for Thursday's game, was wearing a malasadas T-shirt.

"I saw that right away," Graham said. "Maybe subconsciously I'm a malasadas guy."

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OregonRedRaider wrote:
"There is a misconception Christians are, maybe, a little softer or not as aggressive," Graham said. "That's not the case at all. As a Christian, you believe God has given you talents and abilities for a reason. You want to use those to glorify God. This might be a simple analogy, but if your parents give you a present, you don't want it to sit on the shelf. They want you to use it and enjoy it, the same way God has given us all talents and abilities. He wants us to use them." VERY WELL SAID YOUNG MAN!!!... You make your parents and all of Hawaii proud... Outstanding...
on August 28,2013 | 02:52AM
oxtail01 wrote:
He never heard of the bloody crusades?
on August 28,2013 | 07:33AM
frontman wrote:
Not another red haired QB. Come on UH.
on August 28,2013 | 05:00AM
ricekidd wrote:
Why?!! frontman U no like red headed people...? U have problems...
on August 28,2013 | 07:17AM
frontman wrote:
No they can't play D1 football.
on August 28,2013 | 09:13AM
BigOpu wrote:
Sonny Jergenson - Redskins. What was the name of that USC QB...Todd Morinovich or something like that. This is actually a good sports question. Name 5 good Red-headed QB's hahaha...not including Taylor Graham
on August 28,2013 | 09:26AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 28,2013 | 09:35AM
BTO wrote:
Wasn't Marinovich a skateboarding surfer dude blond??
on August 28,2013 | 04:42PM
oxtail01 wrote:
If playing QB is his calling, there must nave been a lot of missed connections over the last few years. He needs a new calling plan and Chow Telegraph isn't it.
on August 28,2013 | 07:35AM
kailua1044 wrote:
eh tail, you just like your neighbor on the backside of that ox
on August 28,2013 | 09:15AM
oxtail01 wrote:
Did Chow Telegraph work for you last night?
on August 30,2013 | 12:29PM
zhawaii wrote:
Good luck Taylor and all the Warriors! Go get 'em tomorrow!
on August 28,2013 | 09:06AM
krusha wrote:
Dude was born to be a QB, can't wait to see him in action against USC. Hopefully the o-line gives him enough time to throw the ball.
on August 28,2013 | 09:36AM
Villyboy wrote:
Taylor this your chance to show the mainland people that you can excel to the next level. So suck up your guts and go for it. We are behind you all the way brah!
on August 28,2013 | 03:21PM
Hiroaki23 wrote:
For the life of me I still cannot understand how Higgins can be the 3rd QB. There is no way Schroeder is better than Higgins! He showed that last year. We'll see if Graham's the real deal because if not, SS as the #2 is just going to be another nightmare. Chow has not learned his lesson I guess.
on August 28,2013 | 04:07PM
BTO wrote:
The running qb is the now of the NCAA. RGIII, Geno Smith, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariotta, etc....Successful College football programs that have had success running pro style offenses with pro style quarterbacks have huge monster line and win in the trenches. Hawaii will never be a dominate win in the trenches team. They do not recruit that type of player. We should have went with Graves last year. Adapt to your teams talent.
on August 28,2013 | 04:47PM
Eradication wrote:
You guys are too funny. Here's a coach with what, 30-40 years football experience at the highest levels possible with a coaching staff that has a vast amount of legitimate experience both playing and coaching and you guys act like you know better? Too funny.... While tomorrows game might get ugly, I'm betting that it will be exciting. UH will be playing with a chip on their shoulder because they have not earned any respect from anyone. Beating USC would be a first step towards a surprising year in football and earning the respect of everyone. First game of the year and EVERYBODY is 0-0. Let's go Warriors!!!!
on August 28,2013 | 05:52PM
oxtail01 wrote:
Being a second or third banana for 40 years does make one think why the guy took so long to reach the top. Could be the others knew what dud the guy really is?
on August 29,2013 | 04:59AM
Eradication wrote:
BTO, I remember the team that went to the Holiday Bowl. That O-line was awesome. Remember Travis Sims tearing it up down the middle.
on August 28,2013 | 05:55PM
jkjones wrote:
4-years is a long spell without game time under his belt. However, consistent accuracy is the best cure for a layoff, much like the Oklahoma State QB who left the gridiron for the diamond and returned in a spectacular fashion to successfully toss the pigskin for the Cowboys. I haven't seen Taylor in practice and his scrimmage stats show him around 55%. Not an impressive number. By his own admission he is not a scooter that can break out-of-the-pocket and create completions on busted plays. Love of the game is admirable but completions move the sticks. That is the bottom line--Taylor Graham must move the ball against USC and sustain drives.
on August 28,2013 | 09:00PM
CartwrightPark wrote:
Sounds like a quality guy. Hope he plays well. Wishing him the best. Nice to see someone proud of their faith and letting others know how great it is to accept Christ. GO WARRIORS!!!
on August 29,2013 | 08:48AM
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