Oct 16, 2013 11:48 PM by Bill Halter
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Dano Graves is already a legend five hours north in Folsom, there he was named National High School Player of the Year by MaxPreps. The undersized quarterback started work on his San Luis Obispo tale last Saturday with 169 yards passing and 116 yards rushing in a 47-0 win against Weber State.
Generously listed at 5'10", 180 pounds, Graves doesn't have the size you'd expect in a quarterback. "There's always been doubters in me, you know that just motivates me. I do what I can on the field and I make adjustments. When I have to see I'll see through the line rather than over the line. I'll move around in the pocket" said Graves who took over the starting quarterback position from an inefficient and injured Chris Brown.
Graves was originally named the Mustangs backup quarterback but an ankle injury sidelined him for the teams second game against Fresno State. When Vince Moraga went down with a knee injury in that contest, Cal Poly went to Brown. Brown played well against the Bulldogs and started against Colorado State, Portland State and Yale. "I was just mentally prepared. Being the number two you just need to stay prepared" said Graves.
Graves is in his sophomore season after spending two years, one as a redshirt, at Air Force. Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh says he recruited Graves hard out of high school and then again after he decided to transfer from Air Force. "We're not the biggest football team anywhere so to us size isn't a factor everywhere so there for it shouldn't be a factor at quarterback" said Walsh.
Graves' parents both graduated from Cal Poly and his dad played football for the Mustangs from 1987-1989. Graves was greeted by a familiar back side at Cal Poly. Stephen Sippel was his center growing up in Folsom and who he takes snaps from now with the Mustangs. "(Dano's) got just the fiery toughness that he comes with and he's got the ability to throw the ball and just great fundamentals. He's a spark of energy when he comes on to the field" Said Sippel who graduated from Folsom the same year as Graves (2011).
Next up for Cal Poly (3-3) is a game at 9th ranked Montana (5-1). Washington-Grizzly Stadium seats 25,217 fans and is one of the most raucous venues in the country. Graves will be making just his second collegiate start but he's been in hostile environments before. "I think some of the things I've been through in high school has prepared me for games like this. You know just the ability to stay calm and composed and collect myself and just focus on the task that's at hand" said Graves.
Graves led Folsom to a state championship during his senior season, the Bulldogs beat a talented Serra team for the title. Cal Poly assistant coach Justin Wood was at the championship game as Graves threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more. "Justin called me from the state championship game and said, hey this little guy is winning the game by himself" said Walsh.
Graves threw for 3,702 yards and 62 touchdowns with 6 interceptions as a senior. He gained 994 yards rushing and scored 23 touchdowns that year as well. As a junior Graves passed for 3,882 yards and 52 touchdowns with 8 interceptions while rushing for 874 yards and 14 touchdowns.
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