Three-star linebacker Nyair Graham committed to Maryland football Saturday, giving head coach Mike Locksley his second pledge of the day, though this time for the 2022 class.
The Camden, New Jersey, prospect was planning on committing later on in the process, but moved his decision date up to Dec. 5 after realizing College Park was the place for him.
“Me personally, I feel like why wait, when I know where I want to go,” Graham told Testudo Times.
Graham narrowed his suitors down to a top-five of Maryland, Syracuse, Nebraska, Miami and Penn State on Nov. 30, and the Terps immediately worked to separate themselves from the pack.
Newly-minted cornerbacks coach Henry Baker, who had been constantly communicating with Graham since the summer, immediately mentioned wanting to get Graham down to College Park and set up a Zoom meeting for Tuesday Dec. 1.
“[Baker] was showing me what was being built. It was crazy,” Graham said. “He showed me the whole campus. Me, my dad and my mom, we were all smiling. It was all happiness.
“When I saw my family was happy, I knew it was the place for me to go.”
Graham is listed at 6’1, 195 pounds and ranks as the No. 31 linebacker overall and the top linebacker from New Jersey in the Class of 2022, according to the 247 Sports Composite.
In a shortened 2020 season at Camden High School, Graham saw further limited time on the field due to a fractured back, a sprained shoulder and a sprained ankle. He went on to tally 40 tackles, two sacks and an interception playing just about half of his team’s four-game season.
“I play fast, physical and with a lot of emotion,” Graham said. “If I play on the field, you’re going to feel me everywhere you go. Some people call me underrated and I show why I’m not underrated. I’m that guy that’s gonna prove himself.”
Graham took interest when watching Maryland play during the 2020 season, as freshman cornerback Tarheeb Still, a fellow New Jersey native, won a starting spot and has played a key role in the defense.
“I watched the first game, and that really got me,” Graham said. “I watched Tarheeb play, and he was making plays. From there I was like, ‘Okay, they’re building something down there.’ I feel like the program is getting better every year.”
Maryland kicked off its 2022 recruiting class by securing a pledge from four-star New Jersey athlete Amari Clark in August. Graham and Clark are close, which played a role throughout the process.
“That’s one of my childhood friends,” Graham said. “We both play in Camden and played all of our little league years together. He’s been in my ear since the beginning.”
For Graham though, building the pipeline from New Jersey to College Park doesn’t stop with him, Clark and Still.
“They’ve shown interest in my brother [Zyeer Blount],” Graham said. “We’re both juniors, so one of the big ups for me was showing love to my brother. We always talked about playing on the same, even when he was a little.”
Graham aims to bring exposure towards other players in New Jersey in the 2022 class and beyond, with the hopes of drawing them to Maryland with him.
Maryland now has four Class of 2022 players committed, with two prospects unranked. Still, it stands as the No. 20 class overall and No. 5 in the Big Ten.