Despite taking an official visit to see the TCU Horned Frogs in January, Temple defensive end Taquon Graham signed with the Texas Longhorns on Wednesday.
DE Ta'quon Graham is officially a Longhorn. Graham ranks 146 on the ESPN 300. pic.twitter.com/yz10nM8ydM— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) February 1, 2017
And so while it would be easy for the day’s commitments to overshadow the signatures from already-committed prospects, keeping Graham in the class was an important and significant accomplishment for head coach Tom Herman and defensive line coach Oscar Giles.
In fact, managing to keep the big defensive end from visiting the Oklahoma Sooners on the last weekend before National Signing Day was arguably the best and most successful recruiting pitch that Giles made in the weeks since his return to his alma mater.
Long a Texas lean, Graham put off a commitment planned for the summer before eventually making his decision in early September. The 6’3, 255-pounder also held offers from schools like Baylor, Georgia, Ole Miss, Oregon, Texas A&M, and USC, among others.
“Texas has always been that childhood school,” Graham told Horns247. “I grew up watching Texas. Everything around here is all Texas. I felt comfortable there. I’ve liked them for a long time. It felt right.”
Ranked as a consensus four-star prospect, Graham is the No. 199 prospect nationally, the No. 15 weak-side defensive end, and the No. 34 player in Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
During his high school career, Graham recorded nearly 150 tackles, 45 tackles for loss, and 26.5 tackles for loss. As a senior, Graham’s play on the edge helped Temple reach the 5A DI state finals.
Here’s the scouting report on Graham:
How he fits at Texas: Graham is a very lithe, 6-foot-4 edge-rusher with a nice wingspan and he’s going to end up filling out to be an explosive 250+ pound edge rusher by the time he’s completed his college career. Despite a frame with big potential, he should remain as a pass-rusher and play Fox and not strongside end. His greatest strength is beating tackles off the snap with his quickness and then using his long arms to keep them off his body and get free so he can bring down the QB. At Texas, they’d want to use him more like Louisville’s Fox Marcus Smith than a more versatile guy like Naashon Hughes and send him after the QB more often than not.
The greatest questions with Graham are how he fits in the multiple 3-4 scheme of Todd Orlando — will he play in the rush linebacker role or as a strong-side defensive end?
Boyd believed that Graham would occupy the Fox position for former head coach Charlie Strong, but it’s possible that Orlando could now have a different plan for him.
Graham doesn’t have any apparent experience dropping into coverage, so it’s unlikely that he would play a role similar to the one that Malcolm Roach played last year as a freshman.
As a good pass rusher with verified 4.75 speed in the 40-yard dash, Graham is an intriguing player who could play multiple roles as he continues to grow into his big frame, which could eventually carry 270 pounds.
The defense will also need need guys who can anchor playing heads up against offensive tackles and it will be interesting to see if that’s something that the Temple product can do in college at a high level in addition to showing his quickness going after the quarterback.
Because there is evidence of that ability and because Lagaryonn Carson was not able to take care of his academics and off-field behavior, Graham is an extremely important member of the 2017 recruiting class for the Longhorns who has an intriguing skill set.