It’s tough to doubt when the coaches at MacArthur High in Lawton, Okla., say they have a top recruit.
Their track record has been pretty good. Oklahoma has two MacArthur products seeing significant playing time in running back Dominique Whaley and defensive back Javon Harris.
But its 2013 running back Darius Graham might end up being the best of all of them.
Graham is receiving looks from OU, Kansas and Tulsa, among others, and said watching Whaley’s performance against the Golden Hurricane inspired him.
“I remember him when he was here, and to see him doing that, you do start thinking that it might be possible to do big things, too,” Graham said.
Graham, 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, is quickly earning a reputation as a punishing runner. It is rare that the first tackler will bring him down.
Graham met somebody that could do it Friday night in defensive end D.J. Ward (Lawton, Okla./Lawton) in the Lawton vs. MacArthur rivalry battle played before 10,000 fans at Cameron Stadium. MacArthur earned a 21-14 victory.
“To us, it really doesn’t get much bigger than this,” Graham said. “This is an unbelievable feeling.”
Ward and Graham collided on a couple of occasions and both showed skills that has made them among the top recruits in the state.
Graham isn’t in a rush on the recruiting trail, saying he’ll take it easy and see how things develop. He’s met with OU running backs coach Cale Gundy on a couple of occasions and said the way the coaches develop players is one of the biggest reasons he is interested in the Sooners.
After being relatively quiet following his sophomore season, Ward already is taking an active approach in the recruiting game.
At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, he is considered the top in-state recruit for 2013 and already holds eight offers, including Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Ward made a visit to OU for the Sooners' game against Tulsa and said he plans on visiting Oklahoma State later in the month.
MacArthur developed a solid game plan of running away from Ward and double-teaming Ward whenever possible. He recorded a sack and several tackles but will have to get used to all the added attention he’ll be receiving from opponents.