In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet one of the youngest players in this recruiting class, who has elite speed, demonstrated excellence, and all the potential in the world: Ft. Myers (FL) Bishop Verot ATH/CB Chris Graves.
When Miami is good, they recruit everywhere from I-4 (which runs through Orlando and Tampa) on south. That’s the “State of Miami” Howard Schnellenberger famously talked about and claimed. And in this class, Miami went back to the Western side of that area to a familiar HS to recruit and sign 4-star ATH/CB Chris Graves from Ft. Myers Bishop Verot HS.
Graves first popped up onto Miami’s radar last year, when the program recruited and signed his HS teammate Malik Curtis. Like Curtis, Graves is known for his speed, and impacts games on both offense and defense for Bishop Verot.
Whereas Curtis was flipped from offense to defense in college, Graves has played plenty of snaps on defense to already have shown his skills on that side of the ball. Miami likes Graves to be a lockdown CB at the next level, and there’s plenty of evidence to support that belief.
As noted, Miami had already begun the evaluation process on Graves when they were recruiting Curtis, so they had plenty of film and contact to work from to build their view of the talented athlete. So familiarity was a big key here, as relationships run the recruiting world.
Things really heated up between Graves and Miami this past summer. He took a pair of unofficial visits and his official visit to Coral Gables within a 2 week span. And despite interest from Florida at the time, and summer official visits to LSU and South Carolina, he committed to Miami on July 9th.
On the 247sports composite, Graves is a 4-star prospect, the #9 ATH nationally, #25 in the State of Florida, and #224 player overall in this class.
Graves committed to Miami over late interest and offers from LSU and South Carolina from a list of 29 scholarship offers from around the country
As A Player
Graves is tall and thin at 6’1” 175lbs. He has the frame to add a bit of weight, but as a perimeter player at CB, he won’t need much more physical development (it’s not like he’s going to be 230lbs or anything).
Graves’s biggest asset is his speed. He’s been clocked at 11 flat in the 100M dash, and that top end speed shows up on the field on Friday nights and will translate to Saturdays (and potentially Sundays) as well.
On offense, Graves outruns coverage with ease. On defense, Graves can cover tons of ground to track down receivers and ball carriers who break through the defense. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that elite speed plays anywhere, and Graves has it, for sure.
Graves isn’t the strongest player in the world, and will have to work to create leverage in run support, and maybe dive through people’s thighs instead of grabbing and wrapping up players for tackles. I’m not saying he needs to have bad tackling form, but trying to stand up a 230lb RB or TE probably won’t go well for him.
Another interesting fact: Graves is a fresh 17 years old. He’s nearly 18 months (or more) younger than many players in his same recruiting class. Graves’s youth is a major plus here, as that means he’s further from his physical peak, but is already showing elite skills. So the potential for him to develop and the ceiling for his development is very much there. And it will be fun to watch Miami work to get him there.
Here’s another eval of Graves by 247sports Southeast Recruiting Analyst Andrew Ivins:
Has the length that college coaches covet. Owns a slender build now, but body should undergo a bit of a transformation as it continues to mature. A wide receiver that’s in the process of making the transition to cornerback. Still trying to figuring things out on defense and master his coverage techniques, but checks off a lot of the right boxes with his long stride, ball skills and overall competitiveness. Runs with what looks like a bounce to his step. Shifty when it comes to changing directions. Appears to be the most comfortable working closer to the line of scrimmage where he is able to put his hands on wide receivers and get them off schedule. Understands how to mirror with his hips and has the foot speed to recover from some of his mistakes. Longer arms help eliminate throwing lanes and he has shown on the 7-on-7 circuit that he will fight through hands to break up a pass. Totaled over 500 receiving yards as a junior while also finding a way to make an impact on special teams. Must add some functional strength over the next few years so that he’s able to take college-sized players to the ground. Could also find a lower center of gravity when he’s in reverse. An intriguing prospect given his traits that’s actually young for his grade and won’t turn 18 years old until August of 2022. Will need some time before he’s ready to take meaningful snaps at the Power 5 level, but ceiling is high. Likely to find the most success in a defensive system that wants its cornerbacks to play press-man or bump coverage.
- Has played the position he’s being recruited to play (and not fully switching to a new spot in college)
- Lithe build
- Technique (due to playing multiple positions and starting off as a receiver first)
Note: changed this up from just a freshman-season outlook to a career outlook for each player last year and we’re continuing that style this year as well.
It will be interesting to see how quickly Graves can pick things up to get on the field. He definitely needs a bit of weight and more importantly some functional strength, and as he’s able to add those things, he’ll be in a better place to contribute on the field.
From the moment he signed, Graves was tied for the tallest player at the CB position on Miami’s roster. That height will come in handy when facing top receiving targets from other teams in the future, and his length (long arms) will allow him to affect plays in a wide area of the field.
Like many players, I expect Graves to have an impact on Special Teams early on in his collegiate career. That could be as a coverage ace. That could be as a return man, which is a role that he excelled at in HS (when his former teammate Malik Curtis wasn’t back there returning kicks). Insofar as his role on defense as a coverage player, that’s up to how quickly he develops and can consistently display clean technique.
Graves will be barely 18 years old as a college freshman, but he’ll be ready for action soon. Look for rotation snaps later on in his freshman year, with a growing role in the future. Graves could just as equally be a depth player for his career as he could be an All-ACC performer who leaves after 3 years for the NFL. His talent and potential are there for sure, but work is needed to unlock his full potential at the college level.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.