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Recent draft pick inspires local football players to follow in his footsteps

Updated: May. 9, 2021 at 9:49 PM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Ta’Quon Graham was a star at Temple high school before continuing his career with the Texas Longhorns.

This Spring, he was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons.

Now, Temple’s Head Coach, Scott Stewart, is using Graham as an example of how to succeed on and off the field.

Stewart says he told his team, “Go live like that young man lives. Go believe like that young man believes. Watch him, he’s an example.”

Many of the kids in Temple started doing that long before Ta’Quon was drafted.

Johnny Donoso grew up in Temple and he tells me, “I looked up to that guy as a little kid. I think all of us looked up to him, so, it is great to see him succeed. It is all of our dream.”

Donoso’s teammate, Samari Howard, added, “I desire to get to that level, and I definitely look up to Ta’Quon.”

For Ta’Quon, getting to that level has been about a lot more than his athletic ability - it’s also the way he lives his life.

Coach Stewart explains, “You won’t find a more selfless kid. His head is on square. Just a great kid. So, when you see that kind of kid get that opportunity – that’s the way God meant it to be.”

Coach Stewart says Ta’Quon’s incredible work ethic and accountability got him to the biggest stage.

Now, it’s inspiring the next generation of Wildcats to push themselves that much harder.

Donoso says, “We are coming here working, seeing someone else, who was just here like us, succeed, gives us hope.”

“I want to be like him, and just be a role model,” adds Howard.

The Temple athletic programs are a major part of the community’s identity, so having a man like Ta’Quon in the NFL is a huge source of pride.

Coach Stewart says he told Stewart, “The only thing you owe anybody here is you go represent us and you go to your thing. And he will. He will do it with class.”

Stewart coached Ta’Quon all four years of high school and predicted his successful future, more accurately than Ta’Quon himself.

“He argued with me because he thought he was going to be a speed-rush D-End. I said, ‘No, you’re going to weigh 300 pounds and be an interior guy’ and he said, ‘No I won’t!’ Five years later he’s 300 pounds and an interior guy, so, I was right Ta’Quon!”

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