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A.J. Graham is gone

MU football
Mar. 07, 2012 @ 11:24 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University quarterback A.J. Graham has been dismissed from the program due to a violation of team rules and policies.

This statement from the Marshall athletic department was released at 2:40 p.m, Tuesday. With it, came the "no further comment" line.

What's it all mean?

For football purposes, one of the intriguing storylines that was to be attached to the 2012 season is all but vanished.

Thundering Herd quarterback controversy? It's solely on Rakeem Cato now.

On Feb. 4, 2009, Graham inked his pledge to play football for then head coach Mark Snyder and Marshall. At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, he was considered a big-time talent.

At Godby High School in Tallahassee, Fla., Graham starred as a senior, completing 244 of 396 passes for 3,870 yards and 38 touchdowns, earning Florida's Mr. Football honor.

However, his Herd dreams took a hit on May 26, 2009, when he was charged with armed robbery. MU immediately released him from his scholarship.

Three months later, charges were dropped and Graham was able to arrive in Huntington.

He redshirted the '09 season, Snyder's last as head coach.

Under Doc Holliday's rule in 2010, Graham challenged Brian Anderson for the starting quarterback spot. He lost out, but was called to duty on Oct. 2 at Southern Miss.

Finally showing the spark of a capable dual-threat signal caller, Graham was efficient in leading four second half drives, completing 10 of 12 tosses for 95 yards before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in the fourth quarter.

He came back to full health before the 2011 season, entering another preseason QB battle. This time, it was up against a highly touted freshman by the name of Rakeem Cato.

Cato, with great energy and an accurate arm, impressed enough in August for Holliday to hand him the pigskin for the Herd's opener on Sept. 4 at West Virginia.

The 19-year-old kept that spot until a lack of production and maturity issues gave Graham an opportunity on Oct. 15 against Rice.

For the first time in his career, Graham was a starter.

"I think I'm ready for what's ahead," Graham said at the time.

He ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-20 win over the Owls.

He combined for 331 total yards and three scores in a 63-28 loss to nationally ranked Houston the following week.

He threw for 239 yards and five TDs in a 59-14 rout of UAB on Oct. 29.

Things were really rolling in Graham's direction ... until Nov. 12 at Tulsa.

In the first half of an ugly 59-17 loss to the Golden Hurricane, Graham injured his shoulder. His season was done.

Cato was handed the keys to the Marshall offense again and this time he delivered by leading three straight wins, including a 20-10 victory over Florida International in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl on Dec. 20.

Graham's shoulder would have likely sidelined him for Marshall's upcoming 15 spring practices (starts March 27), meaning Cato would have had a head start on starting in 2012 anyway.

Now, it's almost a given.

As for the rest of the MU QBs, redshirt freshman Blake Frohnapfel is still recovering from late November arthroscopic surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder and incoming freshman Gunnar Holcombe isn't scheduled to arrive in Huntington until the summer.

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