Four-star CB Thomas Graham discusses choosing Oregon over Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — At various points of his recruitment, Thomas Graham appeared to be on the verge of choosing a future at Notre Dame. But in the end, the four-star cornerback chose to commit to Oregon earlier this month.

Not long after visiting Notre Dame in March, Graham dropped his previous commitment to USC. He even returned for an official visit in September. Yet the Irish couldn’t close Graham’s recruitment.

“One, I wanted to play in the Pac-12,” Graham said of what contributed to his choice. “I wanted my family to come see me more often. Two, I felt comfortable there (at ND), but I just didn’t feel at home. I think that was the main factor.”

The 5-foot-11, 168-pound product of Ranch Cucamonga (Calif.) High said Notre Dame’s struggles on the field this past season didn’t impact his decision. Many of his top schools, including Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA, had their own failings in 2016.

“Every school that I was really considering was on a downfall this year,” Graham said. “I want to be part of a rebuild. That’s my main goal. I want to go somewhere and rebuild the program.”

Oregon’s rebuild started with the hiring of head coach Willie Taggart, who Graham listed first when explaining what drew him to the Ducks. Graham saw less certainty at Notre Dame with head coach Brian Kelly and his staff.

“That kind of was a factor too, but (athletic director Jack Swarbrick) said (Kelly is staying),” Graham said. “You never know. They might say that, and he loses the first game of the year and he’s gone. Now I get a new head coach in my first year of college.”

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Cornerback Thomas Graham, a 2017 target, attended Notre Dame's 36-28 loss to Michigan State on Sept. 17, 2016. (Tribune photo/Jared Hamsher)