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May 15, 2009

USC recruit Graf counting down the days

LOS ANGELES - He's almost there.

Kevin Graf, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive tackle from Agoura (Calif.) High School, committed to play his college football back on Oct. 4, 2007 - almost 600 days ago.

And during a recruiting season where prospects tried on schools like a high school girl tries on prom dresses, Graf knew exactly what he wanted back on that October day.

He wanted to play for the USC Trojans.

"I always knew this was the right decision for me," Graf said. "I've spent so much time around campus with the coaches and the people that have been there forever. I just love the school. I had no reason to waver."

Graf, ranked No. 86 in the final Rivals 100, is now left to count the days until he arrives on campus in late June. And even though he's keeping busy, his thoughts come back to one thing.

"I'm just so excited to finally put on the uniform. I've been waiting so long for that day," Graf said. "To finally get out there and start practicing for the first time, that's something I'm really excited for."

But Graf has some business to finish before he takes the next step to collegiate life. Graf, a nationally ranked thrower, has goals to win the CIF championship in the shot put. He recently topped his personal best, throwing for 59 feet, 9 inches.

Working inside the throwing circle should pay off for Graf once he begins working inside the trenches at Howard Jones Field.

"It helps with your footwork, but the one thing that is really big about it is that it helps with explosiveness," he said. "It just really forces you to explode."

While the added explosiveness should make strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle happy, Graf's eagerness for the playbook should make Pete Carroll and Pat Ruel smile.

Graf picked up the playbook after a trip to USC this past week, and instead of waiting until graduating from high school, he began studying.

"I'm a very quick learner with plays. I just got the playbook this week, and as soon as I got it, I started looking at it. I want to learn the plays as soon as I can," Graf said. "I want to catch up to where everybody else is right now so I have the best chance to get in there as soon as I can."

Graf and Ruel have a special bond, formed over two-plus years.

"He's definitely different than any other coach I've had. He's very lively. He definitely wants you to compete," Graf said. "He's very technical. He wants things done right. I'm very close with him. I talk to him all the time."

Graf knows that the depth chart is crowded along the veteran line, but instead of sulking, Graf's excited to study under the vets.

"I think it will make me better to be learning from so many experienced guys," he said. "Having guys like Jeff Byers in his sixth year will definitely help me out. I can really learn a lot from watching Charles Brown.

"That will help me out in the long run."

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