Though he hasn't played for the Wolverines since 2009, there's no question that Brandon Graham still bleeds maize and blue. Frequently returning to the area, Grham beams with pride when discussing the Michigan football team or his hometown of Detroit. The former first team All-American, Big Ten MVP and first round draft pick is even hosting his own youth camp today in Detroit.
The Daily sat down with the Philadelphia Eagles' linebacker to discuss youth camps, his hometown of Detroit and, of course, Jim Harbaugh.
The Michigan Daily: You see a lot of NFL players at camps, volunteering their time, what’s the draw from an athlete’s perspective?
Brandon Graham: “Just seeing the kids have fun, giving back, just to see their faces light up when they see people like us, that’s not that far away from where we are now. It’s just a blessing to be able to come back, see the kids and have some fun.”
TMD: You’re from Detroit, an area that Michigan tries to work with a lot both in and out of sports, how important is that connection with the community?
BG: “That’s the biggest thing about being here in Ann Arbor, you want to have a connection with Detroit, because this is your home. They’re going to be the guys that come and make this University better, so you better make sure that you can connect with them.
“We can relate to a lot of the things they’re saying because we know the area and a bit of what they go through. You might have gone to the same schools or know some of the same people. The conversation and connection is there because you’re from the same place. You feel right at home.
“I think with (Michigan coach Jim) Harbaugh being here and everyone helping to get that connection, it’s going to help a lot of people by building that relationship. That’s the start of it, having stuff down there, people up here go down there, people down there come up here, just enjoy each other and keep building.”
TMD: You’re starting your own event this year, what’s special about your camp?
BG: “It’s called Select 100, and it’s 100 boys and 100 girls. I wanted to make girls a part of it because obviously you see a lot of dudes at these camps, but there’s not much that the girls can do. So what I wanted to do is bring in half and half for girls and boys. We built an obstacle course for the girls to go though, and then we’re going to finish with the girls by introducing them to yoga and promote anti-bullying, teamwork, confidence building for everyone.
It’s going to be a good time, man. I’ve never seen a camp like this with girls involved, and I wanted to do something different than what everyone else has.”
TMD: Switching gears, you’ve been pretty vocal about your support for Harbaugh and this year’s team. What have you seen from outside that has you so excited?
BG: “The energy, it’s all about the energy. I’d heard about Harbaugh when I was in the league and how he was there and at Stanford, and everyone says he’s a great coach. I just can’t wait to see it show up at Michigan, because we sure need a spark.
“You can just see by the recruiting. I think we’ve got the players now that’re going to be good, and I think Harbaugh is really going to develop the guys and get the maximum out of each guy.”
TMD: You were a part of some successful and unsuccessful teams at Michigan. What advice would you give this team if they’re trying to win a championship and establish Michigan’s dominance again?
“Just stay together, make sure when things get rough that you’re staying together. That’s when you really find out how good your team is, when you’ve got a little adversity or teams might start to break up, you’ve got to stay together.”