Jeff Gravley

Johnny Football, Torian Graham and Honey Nut Berrios

Posted August 14, 2013

I caught up on some reading this weekend, finally consuming the Johnny Manziel story from Sports Illustrated. I almost bypassed reading about the Heisman Trophy winner who runs just as hard and haphazardly off the field as he does on it.

But I'm glad I read it.

We've heard about the NCAA's interest in whether or not Manziel was paid a large sum of money for signing multiple autographs. Here's another angle in the SI story.

Andy Staples gave a specific account about an autograph seeker dressed in military fatigues who somehow found Manziel and his family in a Dallas airport. He wanted Manziel to sign some Texas A&M helmet decals for troops deployed overseas. Later, the Manziel family found on eBay those autographed helmet decals, plastered on the side of maroon helmets and up for bids. Needless to say, the goods were not intended for troops overseas.

There are two or more sides to almost every story.

Later, in the same Sports Illustrated edition, was a story by Luke Winn about why there have been so many transfers in college basketball. Two main characters in the story were Durham's Tyree and Torian Graham. Tyree is a 2008 recruit who played for four high schools and five colleges.

Torian played for five high schools, including Hillside and Word of God. Twice he committed to NC State, and both times didn't keep his commitment. He is currently playing at Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla.

Remember, there are two or more sides to almost every story.

As I continued reading about Tyree and Torian, I learned about their lack of a consistent, solid family foundation. Their mother, once a teacher in Durham, became consumed with drugs and other questionable activities. There were many mornings when the Graham brothers were awakened by the sun shining brightly through the windshield of their mother's car.

Mom and her two sons often slept in the vehicle. She recently passed away after an illness. It's fairly easy to see the correlation between past problems and a path of indecision for Tyree and Torian.

That's not an excuse, because there have been many who came from less than stellar backgrounds who have gone on to find success. I hope the same happens for the Graham brothers.

Here's one more example to multiple sides to almost every story. 

Leesville Road senior Braxton Berrios is a dynamic high school football player who can play multiple positions on offense. His clever nickname, Honey Nut Berrios, was spun from the name of a cereal and used as his Twitter handle: @HNYNUT_BERRIOS. 

Berrios is bit undersized at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, but some of the nation's top programs think he can be a receiver in college. Berrios picked up an offer from Oregon last week to go along with the ones from Miami, South Carolina, Clemson and Tennessee, to name a few.

On June 14, Berrios posted on Twitter that his top five schools in alphabetical order were Clemson, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. The last line read, "any new offer will be strongly considered."  Since then, he has received offers from Miami and Oregon.

You notice the omissions, right?? There are no in-state schools on his list. I know North Carolina has/had interest, but the feeling isn't mutual. The Tom O'Brien staff at NC State didn't think Braxton was enough of a player to pursue. Does the Dave Doeren staff have a different opinion? It's too late, according to the list that Berrios posted.

I'm not here to anoint Braxton Berrios as a college all-star, but I think he will have an impact on a college team. 

There are some big-time college programs who agree, or they wouldn't have crossed the North Carolina border to extend Berrios an opportunity to bring his electricity to their team.

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  • Ken D. Aug 15, 10:58 a.m.

    I'm not quite sure what the point is about the Manziel anecdote. Is it to suggest that the four other times he supposedly signed memorabilia - roughly 4,000 pieces of it - are likely just other instances where Manziel thought he was doing something credit worthy but was duped instead?

    Or is it to point out that he sometimes acts nobly, instead of as a spoiled athlete?

    Or is it that the media shouldn't ask questions about situations that appear to be shady

    Personally, I don't care if he gets paid for signing autographs. Neither he nor his school are gaining any competitive advantage if he does. Any more than they gain an edge if some prospective agent fronts him some money in hopes of obtaining him as a future meal ticket.

    I do have issues if a school finds a way to pay him by outbidding the competition for his services when he is being recruited. I doubt anybody was throwing money at Manziel when he was in high school. He was only considered a three star recruit. ESPN ranked 38 quarterbacks ahead of him in the class of 2011 (UNC's Marquise Williams was rated much higher than Johnny Football).

    Let's save our indignation for schools that truly cheat, and not for the athletes who are being exploited for their benefit.

  • Hammerhead Aug 15, 9:02 a.m.

    *Hammerhead* - True - but these are opinion pieces where these issues can be brought up. Aware... View More

    — Posted by jerryroll

    I don't disagree, I was being sarcastic. The talking heads joke, opine and talk smack about such things behind the safety of the microphone and keyboard, but given the opportunity to actually address these issues with the parties involved, they lob softballs or just ignore it. Hard hitting questioning would require actual journalistic moxie. Such is sports "journalism". Kiss up in person, talk smack otherwise. Jim Rome is the king of that, but I think his episode with Jim Everett may have had something to do with it. Sports talk is nothing more now that two or more parties arguing about something, ESPN has about 10 shows dedicated to it.

  • jerryroll Aug 15, 8:41 a.m.

    *Hammerhead* - True - but these are opinion pieces where these issues can be brought up. Aware that it was not the theme of the OP piece from Jeff....but think we need a local discussion on the integrity of all Triangle school athletic programs. Maybe it's best left up to Kelcey and Cullen.

  • Gunnstigator Aug 14, 9:14 p.m.

    Good reminder for us not to be too quick to criticize people, like Johnny Football.

    The Berrios brothers have been great for Leesville Road; I remember back when Leesville struggled to win. I sure wish Carolina was on his short list.

  • Hammerhead Aug 14, 1:46 p.m.

    Jeff: when are local sportscasters going to call out Word Of God school for their sham of a... View More

    — Posted by jerryroll

    I don't think that's in the job description.

  • Sauras69 Aug 14, 1:13 p.m.

    Solid article Jeff.

  • jerryroll Aug 14, 12:29 p.m.

    Jeff: when are local sportscasters going to call out Word Of God school for their sham of a student-athlete program?? John Wall, Torian Graham, etc. I think folks are afraid of asking the 'Headmaster'...er Minister of Word Of God tough questions....why should he be allowed to run rampant, play fast and loose with the rules, while local schools look the other way? Think he will claim religious persecution or worse yet 'racism'? Word of God needs to be held accountable for their merry-go-round of a basketball program. Anybody else want to add comments?

  • Willie_11 Aug 14, 10:31 a.m.

    Great lesson to learn Jeff. Thanks for posting that information on the SI story. Very plausible.

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