As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Somehow, 2012 was the first season in which Ray Graham rushed for over 1,000 yards. For anyone who’s been following the star running back during his team at Pitt, it’s surprising to say the least. But injuries and a split backfield did, in fact, derail at least part of Graham’s career — however, when he actually received the necessary carries, the senior was a force of nature. Take a look at this season. Of the seven games in which he recorded less than 20 carries, Pitt won just twice (and in one of those victories, he ended up with 19 carries). In the others, the Panthers were 4-2, showing a much improved run/pass balance than when Graham was not as involved. So why not run him? Based on the overall year he had, it’s hard to tell, but it’s most likely due to injury concerns (as hackneyed an excuse as that may appear). On the season, Graham finished up with career highs in carries (222), receptions (36), rushing yards (1,042), total TDs (13) and rushing TDs (11). Tell me why that player should not have gotten the ball even more (again: seven times under 20 carries, and only once over 25). No matter, it was Pitt’s loss, and he’ll certainly be suiting up in the pros next season. Because of history and the Panthers’ lighter use of him in 2012, he may drop a bit due to injury concern, but trust he will be on a roster this fall (health permitting).