Updated: May 9
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
BISHOP VEROT CATHOLIC HIGH
FT. MYERS, FLORIDA
CHRIS "UNO" GRAVES JR
-11 games, all starts
26 TACKLES (23 SOLO)
2 QB HURRIES
1 BLOCKED PUNT
1 BLOCKED FG
1 PANCAKE BLOCK
18.5 YARDS PER CATCH
What you are about to read is a story written for every kid who feels forgotten by the process, ignored by the bright lights and recruiting service dollars, left behind by the pandemic's shutdown....all told from the perspective of one young man who, despite being ranked a 4 star recruit, went without a single offer...until nearly 2 months after his junior season.
Across 2021's badlands / "you're on your own" recruiting cycle, many young footballers struggled to gain the attention of scouts, coaches or analysts.
Due to the NCAA's extended dead period, most 2021 kids were judged by the strength of their highlight tape's production value or their number of likes on a social media post, putting their dreams at risk, pushing back crucial opportunities, or even snuffing their chances out altogether.
As programs weren't able to run camps last summer, while also being prohibited from meeting parents / family face to face or from attending high school games, most coaches missed out on a lot of premium, under the radar talent last summer.
It seems unbelievable, but in a pandemic season where programs have had to manage a litany of issues (more than they ever had to previously), many top coaching staffs or recruiting coordinators can be wildly forgetful of the profound meaning & power behind a single offer.
But as Chris Graves Jr was able to prove, if you really are that good, you'll be noticed...sooner or later...
It will happen:
Out of Fort Myers' Verot Catholic, CB/WR Chris "Uno" Graves Jr is that inspirational story for every 2021 or 2022 recruit finding themselves lost among a constantly reshuffled deck and a hustling, bustling process over the past year.
Despite Uno's athleticism on the outside or his high marks from scouts on both sides of the ball, Graves Jr found himself virtually ignored with zero overall offers.
Without any national (or even state-wide) love coming his way, Graves Jr had every excuse to become frustrated; Instead, the Florida-native elevated his playmaking exploits in a full fury of defiant swagger....
...Uno could not be denied.
Throughout his renegade junior season at Verot Catholic, Uno relentlessly buried ball-carriers, hunted down quarterbacks (launching himself into savage solo hits), pulled off every catch on the field at receiver, and broke up passes left, right or center while conjuring a hat trick of turnovers (2 FRs, 1 red zone INT).
Though Graves Jr may not have realized it at the time, his talents weren't geauxing unnoticed....in fact, the best DBs coach in college football had his eyes fixed squarely on the Vero Catholic cover man.
Until December 16th, CB Chris Graves Jr attracted zero offers....then, once the corner's explosive junior year wrapped up, University of South Florida and Miami became his first pair.
However, over the next couple months as the calendar turned, so would Uno's luck:
Following Miami & USF, local giants Florida State threw their hat in the ring; then came a slew of Big 10 schools like Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa & Minnesota before LSU's Corey Raymond requested Graves' DB services this past February.
In a classic moment relayed to LSU Odyssey, it took Corey Raymond only 30 seconds to offer Graves Jr:
When LSU's top recruiter & developmental coach was shown game tape of the young corner's coverage skills, Raymond quickly asked the young man's trainer (Oliver Davis aka "O.D") to get Uno on the phone so he could officially give him his biggest offer yet.
Immediately following LSU's invitation, 14 more arrived: Oklahoma, Virginia Tech & Louisville among the cream of the next crop.
Up to this very day, more offers continue to pile up as Chris "Uno" Graves' blanket coverage becomes further recognized, 27 total offers as of May 3rd, 2021.
Not only has "Uno" Graves captured LSU's full attention, he's also on the receiving end of daily calls from DBU Professor Corey Raymond....and for good reason:
Uno mirrors 99.9% of the wide outs he's faced thus far, displaying the smooth velocity of a magic carpet as he backpedals, showcasing magnetic tracking abilities, and next level aerial anticipation, hardly ever losing a step or allowing hesitation to cloud his decisions.
It's no wonder DBU's conductor is demanding Graves Jr ride shotgun for his 2022 class.
"Coach Raymond and I talk daily, we talk mostly about technique and development," Uno told LSU Odyssey, extremely pleased with how Corey is handling his recruitment so far.
From zero offers to Corey Raymond blowing up your phone on the daily in just 4 months, all without playing another down....that should tell you plenty about the confusing, challenging state of recruiting for most involved, especially these kids.....but also, that special kind of meteoric trajectory (stemming from such steadfast belief) should tell you everything you need to know about Chris "Uno" Graves Jr.
But we just had to know more:
INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS "UNO" GRAVES JR,
4 STAR CORNERBACK/WR FROM FORT MYERS' VEROT CATHOLIC:
LONN: Uno, which side of the ball do you prefer and really feel you want to develop the most, WR or CB?
LONN: Watching your game tape, you can make almost every catch out there, do you feel that directly translates over to the corner spot, especially when contesting 50/50 balls?
CHRIS: Yea my ball skills are elite so is my bunnys.. players can’t jump with me so it makes it harder for them.
LONN: Has (LSU DBs Coach) Corey Raymond been in contact?
CHRIS: Coach Raymond and Coach O are in contact, Coach Raymond and I talk every day. Raymond said I’m "one of his top guys".
LONN: What is it specifically that Corey Raymond and Coach Orgeron love about your game?
CHRIS: Raymond likes my speed, length and how I can hold my own 1 on 1. Also, my aggressiveness: they like how I compete every rep.
LONN: What do you think is your single greatest attribute that takes your game to a level above the other 2022 DBs?
CHRIS: My confidence and competitiveness... I feel like I’m one of the best DBs in my class.
LONN: Which DBs did you study most growing up?
CHRIS: Jaycee Horn.
LONN: What is it about Horn that makes him your guy above so many other great DBs?
CHRIS: His competitiveness.
LONN: Do you think you hit harder than any corner in the 2022 class?
CHRIS: Yea I like to hit. Most corners don't like to.
LONN: You do pack a wallop, some of these hits are nasty, I like that you're a corner who doesn't shy away.
Miami's Travaris Robinson is in the mix for you, which would be closer to home: so I ask you this, Chris, which means more regarding your final decision? Location / proximity to family or pure coaching / development?
CHRIS: Development for sure...I’m tryna make it to the NFL, not play for the best team at that time.
LONN: You're scheduled to visit us on the 18th!!! What are you looking forward to most about LSU?
CHRIS: The facilities, how they take care of their players throughout going there and after their done with their 4 years
LONN: What have conversations been like with Coach O?
CHRIS: Our convos don’t be that long he just check up on me time to time, see how me and the family doing.
LONN: Uno, what was the biggest challenge off the field you've ever been through and what did you learn about yourself most when going through it?
CHRIS: Working hard but no offers 2 months ago. Made me learn that everyone has a chance... just gotta wait your turn.
LONN: Now you got 27 offers, right?
LONN: What facet of your junior year made all these offers fly in?
CHRIS: My film and my length and speed. Also I have a very good trainer, Oliver Davis but he goes by OD, he's like a mentor to me.
LONN: Then he's done a damn good job. What's the best advice Oliver Davis has given you?
CHRIS: Stay focused on the main goal.
LONN: Alabama haven't offered you yet, what would an offer from Charles Kelly and Jay Valai mean to you?
CHRIS: A lot!! Looking forward to that offer.
LONN: Who is your team or was your team growing up? Were you a U fan?
CHRIS: I was a big fan of Miami, FSU, Oregon, Bama, LSU.
LONN: (laughs) Wow...both LSU and Alabama...if you had to pick one on game day, who would it be?
CHRIS: I liked both so I couldn’t choose.
LONN: LSU have been way early here...Alabama are extremely late to your party!
CHRIS: Ya I know.. I might commit before the season, just to get my spot sealed in.
LONN: Which of your teammates deserve a shoutout you feel? Guys who maybe don't get enough credit but guys you notice?
CHRIS: David Portu, 6’4 240 DE/LB.
LONN: What has been the moment of your career thus far?
CHRIS: Playing against a 6’4, 4 star receiver when you wasn’t even heard of and holding him to zero yards and zero completions (vs current Nebraska WR Kamonte Grimes).
CHRIS: Yessir, on me, (laughs) he scored when I wasn't guarding him.
LONN: He probably did a ten mile flex after. Do you have a favorite song that gets you geauxing before a game, one that makes you wanna tear faces off on the field?
CHRIS: "I Don't Like" by Chief Keef.
LONN: What else do the people need to know about you, Uno?
CHRIS: That I should be top 5 in my class.
LONN: I agree.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN