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Graf can size up the competition

At 6-6, 305 pounds, the Agoura High senior offensive lineman is often more than the opposing team can handle.

August 29, 2008|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

Kevin Graf's arms are as thick as tree trunks. He doesn't need to wear a helmet or shoulder pads for people to identify him as a football player. At 6 feet 6, 305 pounds, everyone knows what he tries to do -- pummel opponents.

"He's probably the best we've ever had," said Charlie Wegher, who has been Agoura's coach for 15 years.

Graf graded out at 90% last season as a junior offensive lineman, meaning he fulfilled his blocking assignments as if he were an 'A' student.

This summer, he joined Agoura's 1,000-pound club, the amount of combined weight lifted in bench press, squat and clean.

"If you watch the film, not many get around him, and he can squash you," Wegher said.

Graf smiles when he hears "squash."

"That is my goal on every play -- drive them back as far as I can right onto their back," he said. "I love it. My dad tells me he wants a decleater on every play, and that's what I try to give him. That's what coaches like to see."

It almost seems unfair that Graf gets to wear pads as protection considering his strength, power and agility. Imagine being a defensive player, looking up and seeing Graf charging straight at you.

"I do intimidate people," Graf said.

He has committed to USC and wants to play tackle in college, but Agoura has moved Graf to center this season because that's where the Chargers need him most.

"We see a lot of nose guards, and we want to make sure they're neutralized," Wegher said.

Graf has been working on snapping and stepping at the same time. "I'm learning the snaps, learning the plays, learning how to read linebackers," he said. "It's a good experience because now I know every position, and it will help me for college."

Graf also has played nose guard, so he understands what's required of a center and how play on the line can be physical and unpredictable.

"It's sometimes very rough and sometimes very dirty," he said. "You have to learn to play through it."

There was little doubt Graf would end up at USC. His father, Allan, started as an offensive lineman on USC's 1972 unbeaten national championship team. His brother, Derek, was an offensive lineman for the Trojans in the late 1990s.

Graf estimates he has walked through the tunnel at the Coliseum at least 40 times, and "it still gets me so excited," he said.

"I get to feel the history of the people who played there."

Graf has established a high standard as a blocker at Agoura, and athleticism is part of his success. He plays basketball and was the Marmonte League shotput champion with a best of 58 feet, 7 inches. He proved that three-sport athletes still exist.

"I love it," he said. "The baseball coach asked me to come out, and I considered that. SC likes it that I play three sports. For people who say, 'Focus on one sport,' I'm always going to be focused on football, but it's nice to enjoy the sports I'm playing. Basketball prepares me with my footwork, and track is more lifting and helps with strength."

Wegher is grateful he has a player he can count on.

"He's the real deal," Wegher said.

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Next up: Defensive line

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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