Graves ready to put the pads back on

Former Whitney star will play for Sierra College this season after red-shirting last year
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Running back Zack Graves hasn’t played in a game yet but he still feels like a veteran for the Sierra College Wolverines. The 2009 Whitney High graduate sat out last season at Sierra as a red-shirt but he will be on the field this fall. “I still practiced with the team and I got a few reps but I didn’t get a lot of reps (in practice) because I didn’t suit up for games,” said Graves about last season. “And it was just like a learning experience - a chance to learn the offense for (this) year and get on the field . . . I practiced as hard as (the other Sierra players) last year and they know who I am and that I’m going to be ready to go.” Graves, who was a major star when he played for Whitney High, expects to split time at running back with sophomore teammate Josh Dupree of Nevada. “It was hard having to sit on the sidelines with no pads and hold the clipboard and knowing that I’m not getting in,” Graves said. “I’m really excited to get on the field and be playing again.” Sierra went 5-6 overall and 3-2 in conference play last season under head coach Jeff Tisdel. The Wolverines had gone 66-11 over the previous seven seasons (2002-08). “Last year our team lacked the leadership that the Sierra teams had in previous years,” Graves said. “We just didn’t have leadership. But we are really good this year and I think we have a lot more leaders.” Graves, 5-foot-8, weighed about 165 pounds as a senior at Whitney and he weighs about 180 pounds now. “(Tisdel) is telling me he doesn’t want me to gain any more weight,” Graves said. “He thinks I’m perfect (size wise) and wants me to keep my speed.” Graves and his Sierra teammates are in the middle of a four-week summer program. “We are practicing three days a week . . . going through play-by-play and adding new plays every day,” Graves said. Graves hopes to continue playing football after his days at Sierra are over. “My ultimate goal after Sierra is just playing for a Division I college,” said Graves, who received interest from Idaho State and Sacramento State following his high school career. “I really want to play Division I . . . but (even if that doesn’t work out) I just want to play football at a four-year college.” Graves, as a senior in 2008, scored 40 touchdowns while helping Whitney to a section championship and an undefeated season (13-0). He ran the ball 318 times for 2,783 yards and 39 touchdowns while catching seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown in the championship season. He also completed 7-of-8 passes for 63 yards and five touchdowns. Graves led the Wildcats offense as a junior as well, helping them reach the section finals.