Story by Bryan Edwards, Staff writer
With National Signing Day approaching for all football programs in the country, the Racers added a four-star transfer from the University of Georgia to their steadily building recruiting class for the 2017 season.
Head Coach Mitch Stewart announced Monday that Rico McGraw, a sophomore defensive back and older brother of Racer running back Mareio McGraw, has decided to transfer to Murray State and has enrolled in classes for the Spring 2017 semester.
“We’re glad to have him on the team,” Stewart said. “He’s a tremendous player and a tremendous person in general and we think he is going to be a major impact on this team.”
Stewart noted that his decision to transfer to Murray State was a personal decision.
“His relationship with all of the players and coaches at Georgia was great and there were no issues within the program with him,” Stewart said. “He had the opportunity to play with his brother and he had the chance to play a lot. I don’t think he was going to have the opportunity to play a lot and be the guy down there, so he wanted to make a move while he still had years left and he found a situation where he could come to play with his brother and we welcomed him with open arms.”
Mareio McGraw is happy to be playing on the same team as his brother again. The brothers played football together in high school.
“It’s exciting and it’s been too long since we’ve played together,” McGraw said. “The team is happy to have him here and we’re all ready to get to work this offseason.”
McGraw played two seasons for the Bulldogs, including a breakthrough freshman year, where he played in nine games and started in five, recording 20 tackles and 4 pass break-ups. After having a successful freshman year, McGraw only played in two games for Georgia in his sophomore season, and announced his intent to transfer from the program at the end of the year.
McGraw wasn’t the only player to leave the Bulldogs football program this offseason, defensive backs Juwuan Briscoe and Kirby Choates, wide receiver Shaquery Wilson and linebacker Shaun McGee all have also decided to transfer from Georgia for unspecified reasons.
Recruited as an athlete out of high school, McGraw attended The Ensworth School. He recorded 875 all-purpose yards with seven touchdowns on the offensive end in his junior season, while recording 3 interceptions, 5 pass deflections and 29 tackles defensively. He helped lead the Tigers to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Division II Class-AA state championship that season as well.
As a senior, he helped his team record a 10-2 record with 16.5 tackles, 3 deflections, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery before falling short of a second straight state championship.
Before committing to Georgia, McGraw was a consensus four-star rated prospect out of high school, ranked 144th in the 24/7 sports rankings and the sixth ranked recruit in the state of Tennessee., where he was a member of the Tennessee Sports Writer Association All-State team in 2013 and 2014.
He originally committed to play for the University of Alabama, before switching his commitment to Georgia. Kirby Smart left Alabama to become the head coach of the Bulldogs the following season.
Along with those honors, he was selected to participate in the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, in which the best high school prospects are invited to play one final game in front of college scouts from all over the country.
Coach Stewart said that the recruiting process has some slight changes when dealing with a transfer student than with a high school prospect.
“There isn’t a difference when it comes to actually recruiting him to play but there are some issues with contacting the player,” Stewart said. “We have to get permission from the school to meet with him and the player has to send their release forms before we can start with any recruiting.”
McGraw will have two years of football eligibility left and will be available to play in the upcoming season.
This won’t be the last time McGraw sees his former teammates. The Racers are currently scheduled to face the Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia in the opening weeks of the 2018 season, which will be McGraw’s senior season.