Hempfield lineman Cole Graham commits to St. Francis (Pa.)

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019 | 9:13 PM


Cole Graham was a late-bloomer in the recruiting game, but that did not stop the Hempfield football lineman from finding his way to a Division-I program.

Graham, who saw an uptick in interest in recent weeks, announced Wednesday his commitment to play at St. Francis (Pa.).

The Red Flash offered him over the weekend.

He had picked up five D-I offers since mid-November.

Graham, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound senior, narrowed his list of offers to St. Francis, Duquesne and Connecticut, the last of which is a Division I-FBS school.

But FCS St. Francis won out and Graham hopes to play offensive tackle in front of friends and family, who can make the relatively short trip up Route 22 to Loretto.

He will likely sign a letter of intent Dec. 18.

“Recruiting has been fun, being able to go to different places and see all the opportunities,” Graham said. “I am grateful for those who made it happen. But St. Francis just felt like the place for me — the people and coaches and players were all awesome and took me in like I had been there for years.

“It’s just got a great feeling and knew it was the place.”

Graham also played some tight end for the Spartans and was a strong defensive end. He led the Spartans with 6.5 sacks and had 47 tackles.

Lehigh and Monmouth also offered Graham, who received light college interest last year and for most of this season.

“I think having a slow junior year definitely impacted it, but I worked hard senior year, grinding for it on and off the field, and the extra effort paid off, definitely,” Graham said.

Graham helped Hempfield rush for 2,039 yards, led by senior running back Nathan Roby (1,449 yards, 19 TDs), and the Spartans passed for 1,625 yards.

On defense, he had 47 tackles and 6.5 sacks.

“Cole worked very hard in the offseason and made himself into a D-I player,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “We are very proud of him, and it shows if you work hard, good things will happen. He will be a great college football player.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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