Trying to win a conference championship with a third string quarterback is never the ideal way to go. That’s why what the NIU Huskies are faced with following injuries to their top two quarterbacks.
In August during training camp Ryan Graham was third on NIU’s depth chart behind Drew Hare and Anthony Maddie. Last month Maddie had back surgery knocking him out of the picture. Last week Hare went down with a ruptured Achilles. Suddenly last week at Toledo Graham became the man.
“I guess I was two plays away from playing in the beginning of the season and then just how injuries happen and the way the cards folded I kind of ended up playing,” says Graham.
Graham was very good at Toledo when he replaced Hare. He passed threw a touchdown pass to Kenny Golloday, and he helped the Huskies rally in the fourth quarter for a 32-27 win over the unbeaten Rockets.
“I didn’t have time to be nervous. I just went in there and played like I knew I could,” says Graham.
“If you looked at our sideline once Drew went down we didn’t flinch. We knew Ryan was going to come in and do his thing,” says NIU defensive end Ladell Fleming.
In high school Graham played at football power Wheaton Warrenville South. In two years as a starter he passed for more than two thousand yards and 24 touchdowns. He also rushed for more than one thousand yards.
Graham’s father and one of his uncles played football here at NIU, and two of his uncles played in the NFL. Coming from such a football family accelerated Graham’s development as a football player.
“It’s always been fun growing up and knowing that’s kind of my roots,” says Graham.
“The way he’s grounded through his family and his faith really put him in a situation where he was prepared for that,” says NIU coach Rod Carey of Graham’s performance at Toledo. “He went out and made plays. Now he’s got to back that up and he’s got to put in the preparation and the time as a starter. Not that it’s a whole lot different because I’m telling you him and Drew were attached at the hip here the last six weeks.”
Graham and the Huskies will play at Buffalo Wednesday night.