Miami Hurricanes: Basketball Player Raphael Akpejiori Joins Football Team

Could Akpejiori Be the Next Jimmy Graham?

4/3/14 in NCAAF   |   Nick_Kaminsky   |   29 respect

The tight end position has blossomed over the past decade. Guys like Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham have transformed the way tight ends are being used. Athleticism is being highly valued on the end of the offensive line.

The Miami Hurricanes are certainly no stranger to producing great tight ends to the NFL. Players like Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow Jr., Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham immediately come to mind.
Blog Photo - Miami (FL) Football: Raphael Akpejiori Joins Football Team
Of course, Jimmy Graham wasn’t primarily a football player at the “U”. He played on the basketball team from 2005 to 2009 and decided to take graduate classes to play a season of football.

Graham was certainly raw during his time with the Hurricanes, but was able to put up decent numbers for the offense. He finished the season with 17 receptions for 213 yards and five touchdowns.

Graham’s success in the NFL may have encouraged several other basketball players in college; Miami’s 
Raphael Akpejiori has decided to give it a shot and join the football team to play tight end.
Akpejiori is listed at 6-foot-9 and 241 pounds, so the size is undoubtedly there. But he is from Lagos, Nigeria, and has zero football experience. The good news is that Akpejiori has the work ethic to make an impact.

"He is an extremely hard worker, outstanding student and great young [man] who played sparingly during [my] first two seasons," head basketball coach Jim Larranaga said, according to "He showed up every day for practice and did a fantastic job of preparing the starters to play as well as they did.”

It’s hard to believe that Akpejiori will be able to come in this spring and start in the fall, especially with the depth Miami has at the tight end spot. He has Clive Walford, Beau Sandland, Standish Dobard, and Jake O’Donnell in his way to become the starter.

But that 6-foot-9 frame can’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff. Whether Akpejiori is catching touchdown passes this season or not, he may be able to contribute on special teams. He will definitely be a player to watch this spring and throughout fall camp.

Akpejiori may not be a household name this season in Miami, but if the coaching staff can get him going in the right direction and he masters the fundamentals, watch out: He very well could be the next Jimmy Graham. 
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