College football always seems to bring the biggest, most jaw-dropping moments. The NFL is fantastic, but we expect those professionals to make extraordinary plays. That’s why they got drafted in the first place, right? That’s why college football draws so many fans every week. It’s why people get so involved in their favorite schools. It’s exciting seeing these players give their all in an effort to fulfill their dreams.
Well, Oklahoma sophomore defensive back D.J. Graham may have just paved his way into the NFL.
OH MY WORD! The Grand Canyon, Season 3/Episode 9 of Game of Thrones, and THIS interception, are the only things that have made my jaw hit the floor after my first time seeing them.
I’ve seen Odell Beckham Jr. snag a one-handed sideline catch out of the air while being interfered with. I’ve seen David Tyree make a catch against the side of his helmet against an undefeated team with a Super Bowl on the line. (Geez, the Giants used to be good, huh?) I’ve seen Marshawn Lynch carry eight Saints into the end zone. I’ve seen Francis Owusu make a catch around the back of his defender. I’ve seen all that, and I’m already willing to put this interception right up there with these. Do I have a major recency bias? Maybe. Am I just really emotional after seeing the play this weekend? Sure. But you can’t deny how insane this interception was. Diving, one-handed, and to put the game on more ice than fish at a supermarket. My word! WHAT A PLAY!
The man behind the catch, D.J. Graham, was a 3-star recruit out of Keller Central High School in Keller, Texas. He didn’t earn a starting spot in the Sooners secondary right away. In his freshman year in Norman, Graham played in just six games, and recorded only 20 total tackles and one interception, and that one interception came against Baylor who was in the middle of the school’s second-worst season since 2010. Yeah, they struggled to get going with the departure of Matt Rhule. Even still, Graham has had to fight for every snap he’s played in 2021. When the Sooners released their first official depth chart of September, Graham was listed as tied for the CB2 spot with Jaden Davis. Even guys like Jeremiah Criddell and Billy Bowman were competing for snaps, although they were more fighting for the nickel corner position. And of course, everybody I just mentioned was behind Woodi Washington, the team’s top option at corner.
However, after seeing this play I can’t imagine a scenario where Lincoln Riley doesn’t start to view Graham in a much brighter light. It doesn’t matter that the Sooners would’ve had better field position if Graham just let the ball hit the grass. Anyone willing to put their body on the line like Graham did and come away with the football is a baller, a competitor, and has serious potential to be a shutdown corner at the college level.
I’m not going to go out on a major limb and say that Graham is a sure-fire NFL star. He’s not. But he’s still got a few years to fine tune his skills and develop into a top college defensive back. This is the best thing that could’ve happened to Graham. Can you imagine how many NIL deals Graham is going to get for that interception alone? We still talk about OBJ’s one-handed catch against the Cowboys like it was yesterday, and like OBJ could still pull something like that off (he can’t; fight me). With everybody looking to cash in on being able to promote college football players, the deals, sponsorships, and autograph signing opportunities are probably flying into Graham’s DMs, and that brings a smile to my face. Sure, Graham may not experience another moment like that in his college career, but now we know his name, which means more people will take notice, and that means as long as he keeps up the solid work, he’ll have a great shot at becoming a pro in a few years. I’ll keep my eye out.