Thursday, August 16, 2012
Kevin Graf is 'hiding it well'
By Pedro Moura
Lane Kiffin has not been keeping tabs on Kevin Graf since the end of last season.
Asked after Thursday's practice about Graf, USC's fourth-year right tackle, the Trojans' head coach was amazed to hear that he'd gained upwards of 20 pounds since November of last year.
"I didn't know that," Kiffin said, laughing. "That's news. He's hiding it well."
Graf said earlier Thursday that he's now weighing in at about 6-6 and 305 pounds -- up significantly from the 285 pounds he peaked at last season and the 275-280 he was usually operating at by the end of the year.
Kiffin indicated he knew Graf had gained some sort of weight, just not that kind of weight.
"Kevin's big thing is he's gotten stronger," Kiffin said. "His body has gotten better. I don't know that it's 20 pounds, but he is stronger. He is more physical at the point.
"To go to that next step of playing well to playing really well, like guys have done here before, that was needed."
Kiffin has never been very complementary of Graf, for whatever reason. He was quick to turn on Graf after his poor performance at Arizona State last September, and didn't give him a very long trial run at left tackle this spring, either, before turning the spot over to hotshot sophomore Aundrey Walker.
But the coach seems comfortable with Graf on the right side this camp, especially with the added muscle he's put on. Graf said in February that he had a very specific goal for his weight gain. For every 10 pounds he put on, eight or nine had to be muscle and only the remaining one-plus pound could be fat.
He said on Thursday he's pleased with the progress he made in the offseason and not focusing on the fact that he's been placed on the right side while freshman Max Tuerk gets a shot at the left.
"Honestly, I'm just doing whatever my team needs me to do," Graf said. "If they need me at right tackle, I'm gonna give them my best at right.
"If they need me at left, I'm gonna give them my best at left."