Football Recruiting

Isaiah Graham reached into an empty gift bag, feigned taking a phone call, took another from bag coach Maurice Crowder and quarterback Jerry Powell before finally pulling out a TCU cap.

It was the senior wide receiver's way of having a little fun with the crowd as he announced his verbal commitment at Bastrop High's homecoming pep rally Friday morning.

In the end, Graham chose TCU over Arkansas, Mississippi State and Tennessee. As a wide receiver, who could blame Graham for picking the Horned Frogs?

“TCU's offense had a lot to do with,” Graham said. “I have family in Dallas, which is only about 30 minutes away from Fort Worth, so it's not like I will be alone.”

Graham also has family ties in Arkansas. In fact, he inadvertently toyed with onlookers and media covering the event before he even took the microphone. When Graham was spotted wearing a maroon jacket with black pants, it led to speculation that his choice would be Arkansas or possibly Mississippi State, the school he visited last weekend.

“I didn't even think about it until everybody started asking about it,” Graham said when asked about wearing a coat with colors similar to Arkansas and Mississippi State. “It was just a suit I liked.”

On the other hand, the skit was entirely his idea.

“I put that together this morning,” Graham said with a mischievous smile. “That's when I got coach Maurice and Jerry involved.”

For Graham, the skit was a way to end the recruiting process on a fun note.

“The fun part is over,” Graham said. “Now it's time to get down to business.”

Throughout the recruiting process, Graham was adamant that his decision would be based on a combination of factors, including academics and atmosphere, as well as football.

Ultimately, TCU stood out.

“TCU's not a big campus, but it's not small, either,” Graham said. “I just felt comfortable there.”

Graham, who is graduating from Bastrop High at the semester, will start classes at TCU in January and join his new team for spring training. Prior to reporting for the spring semester, he will play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, California on Jan. 3.

Graham, who had grown leery of the constant phone calls from recruiters and media, sounded relieved to have the announcement behind him.

“No more late-night phone calls,” he said.

Graham says he actually made his choice last week prior to visiting Mississippi State

“I picked TCU last week after I had a long talk with (TCU receivers coach Rusty Burns),” Graham said, “but I wanted to see what Mississippi State had. I didn't want to just cut Mississippi State out.”

Graham is set to become the latest in a growing line of Louisiana players, many of whom hail from the 318 area code, to join the Horned Frogs.

“TCU has quite a few guys from Louisiana, most of them from north Louisiana,” Graham said.

North Louisiana is represented on the Horned Frogs' current roster by wide receiver KaVontae Turpin of Neville, defensive tackle Chris Bradley of Evangel, snapper Matt Boggs of Benton and wide receiver Connor Osborne and defensive ends James McFarland and Terrell Lathan of West Monroe.

In recent years, TCU has emerged as one of the nation's elite programs. Coming off of a 12-1 2014 campaign, the Horned Frogs improved to 8-0 (4-0 Big 12 Conference) with Thursday night's 40-10 victory over West Virginia.

Graham entered Friday night's game against Grant with 30 catches for 545 yards and seven scores.

A three-start recruit, Graham is rated as the No. 80 receiver prospect in the nation by rivals.com. He is in his third year as a starter for the Rams. Last year, Graham tallied 48 catches for 1,018 yards and 20 touchdowns en route to earning first-team Class 4A All-State honors. Gaining first-team All-District 2-4A acclaim as a sophomore, he snagged 39 passes for 684 yards and 10 scores.

In track, Graham helped the Rams to a state runner-up finish in the 4 x 200-meter relay last year.