In his first four seasons at UM, Jimmy Graham was being taught how to improve his jumper, his rebounding skills and how to take a charge. The last four months, however, have been a crash course in football.
Saturday at Land Shark Stadium, I caught up with the former shot swatter at Canesfest and found out how his transition from basketball to football has been going. And it was interesting to hear who the 6-8, 260-pound tight end hopeful has been learning the most from.
Here is my interview with Graham -- one of more than 15 from today with some of the Canes' newest players. If you would like to hear them, check out our Canes audio page. If not, check back this week and in the Sunday paper for plenty of news and notes.
Q: What's been the toughest part about making the switch from hoops?
JG: "It's just very different. There's no more hardwood and no more air conditioning. It's been a hot summer. Just getting used to the heat has been one of the hardest things."
Q: What were the first seven-on-seven drills like? I'm sure you were using muscles you hadn't before.
JG: "It was fun. I remember the first week I was sore and my hips were sore. I was wondering why they hurt so much. I love the physicality of it. I've enjoyed it and being able to use my body and my hands. I'm excited. I really am."
Q: What do you feel is the biggest adjustment footballwise? Is it catching the ball?
JG: "I don't think its the catching. I know I can catch the ball. It's just getting used to hit after I catch it. And the playbook. We have a great offensive coordinator."
Q: Physically, what would they like you to do to get ready for this season? Anything?
JG: "I'm 260 right now and that's as big as I want to get. And they want me to keep my vertical."
Q: Why did you decide to give this a shot when you could have been playing overseas?
JG: "I want to win a ring. That's why I came back to college. I had some opportunities and some training camps in the NFL who wanted me to come in. But I've been in college for four years and I haven't won a ring. That's what I want to do."
Q: Who has helped you make the transition? Any former Canes teaching you?
JG: "One of the biggest helpers I've had is Bernie Kosar. I talk to him quite a bit. He's really helped me out a lot, teaching me little things. He's really been teaching me the game. He always tells me I have great hands. He talks about keeping the beginning of your route the same so people can't predict that. Also, how quickly to come out of a break and how quickly the ball is going to be on you and just getting used to that. I've also had a little help from Ed Reed, teaching me how to read defenses. You have to be able to read safeties and linebackers. It's a lot more than five people. I'm just getting used to that."
Q: What about film? Who are you studying?
JG: "I've watched more films in the tight ends in the last couple months than ever before. Kellen Winslow. I've been watching a lot on Greg Olsen. Bubba Franks. Bubba was the man. The good thing is there is so much film to watch. It's not like I have to search for it. It's easy to find."
Q: What are your goals? Do you want to start?
JG: "I just want to play. Football was my first love and just the opportunity to play it at the highest level is what I'm really excited for. I just want to get in the game and catch the ball."
Q: How has Dedrick Epps helped you out?
JG: "Dedrick's been doing all his rehab and stuff and he's been great. He's done well in 7-on-7 and I can't wait to have an opportunity to play beside him."
Q: What's it like to play football at the U versus basketball? This place today is insane.
JG: "Football is a little different. These fans are a little different. I love it. I wish basketball had fans like this."