TAMPA, Fla. -- Scottie Graham was born in Alabama, grew up in New York and now is a blue collar college football player at Ohio State.
Graham, a 5-foot-9, 225-pound sophomore, is listed as the Buckeyes' starting fullback, but he also was used quite succcessfully at tailback in the final two games of the regular season.
'If they asked me to play quick guard, I'd play it if they felt I could,' said Graham as he prepared for Ohio State's Jan. 1 Hall of Fame Bowl date with against Auburn. 'But, those guys in the trenches do a great job. I don't think they need me there.'
Graham and tailback Carlos Snow gave Ohio State a solid 1-2 punch the past season as the Buckeyes regained some of the old 'three yards and a cloud of dust' offense made famous by Woody Hayes.
Snow rushed for 948 yards while missing one game and most of another and Graham chipped in with 924, including the Buckeyes' two longest runs of the year from scrimmage, 70 and 60 yards.
'Carlos could run at fullback too and knock people out,' Graham said of his close friend, who is scheduled to start the game after sitting out the season's finale against Michigan with an injured right knee. 'If I got hurt and there was no other fullback, shoot, he could go in there and play fullback also.'
Graham, who also helps out on the special teams, was a high school tailback at the same Long Beach, N.Y., high school that produced Pete Johnson, the Buckeyes' career touychdown leader. But, he claims, that had nothing to do with his choice of colleges.
'I looked at them (colleges that were recruiting him) and said 'Wow, here's an opportunity to play for Ohio State.' That opportunity alone, I couldn't turn that down. I could have gone to a lot of schools -- Tennessee, Georgia Tech or Syracuse -- but there was something about Ohio State, Archie Griffin, and it didn't hurt that Pete Johnson was from my high school.'
Graham alternated between fullback and tailback in the Buckeyes' 28-18 loss at Michigan, gaining 133 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns.
He claims, however, the Auburn defense is tougher.
'Take the best guys from Michigan, the best guys from USC and the best guys from Illinois and there they are,' said Graham, who moved to New York from Alabama when he was 2 years old. 'They're quick and they play, but we can play with them. They play from the snap to the whistle.
'They have a linebacker (Quentin Riggins), I don't even know his name,' said Graham, 'but he brings it. He's one of those guys who plays every play lights out.'
Riggins, a 5-foot-11, 208-pound senior, led the Tigers in tackles with 165, including 78 solos.
Graham feels the Buckeyes will need a balanced attack to move the ball against Auburn, which surrendered just 115 yards per game on the ground.
'We'll have to do a little bit of everything,' he said, 'throw the ball, play action 'em. 'They know what were going to do, we know what they're going to line up. We're going to play.'
One of Graham's biggest boosters if Buckeye Coach John Cooper, who said his fullback-tailback 'gave us a fantastic year in a lot oof ways.'
'You can't have a better attitude towards football, towards life, towards college than what Scottie has,' said Cooper.
'He did a great job for us last season helping us recruit. He did an equally great job in the off-season conditioning program, in spring practice and the in summer conditioning and he's had a banner year becuse of it.'