football Edit

Graves enjoys All-American Bowl experience

Aaron Graves celebrates after sacking the quarterback in the All-American Bowl.
Aaron Graves celebrates after sacking the quarterback in the All-American Bowl.

Future Hawkeye defensive lineman Aaron Graves held his own against some of the best players in the country on Saturday as he helped lead the West team to a 34-14 victory in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

“I thought I did well in the game,” said Graves. “I had a sack and several pressures. They didn’t run the ball too much, which I would have liked to see how I did in the run game, but I’ll get to do a lot of that playing in the Big Ten.”

Overall, the week was a lot of fun for Graves, who came in from one of the smallest schools in the all-star game with Southeast Valley having a graduating class of 85 students this year, but he quickly proved why he is among the top recruits in the country.

“It was an amazing experience for sure,” Graves said. “It was very reassuring to know that I can more than compete with some of the best in the nation. Coming from a small town, you kind of have that doubt whether you belong on such a big stage, but I think I proved I should be there.”

Among Graves' teammates on the West defense was safety Xavier Nwankpa as the two future Hawkeyes helped hold the East to just 14 points in the game.

"It's always good to get to know future teammates," said Graves.

Checking in at 6-foot-4 and 268 pounds in San Antonio, Graves was a starter at defensive tackle but also saw time at defensive end, which is the type of versatility that he will be bringing to college at Iowa.

“They like their guys moving around at Iowa, so it was good to get reps at both,” Graves said.

Now back at home, Graves looks forward to continuing his busy winter schedule as he competes in both basketball and wrestling for Southeast Valley.

“I’m right back into it,” said Graves. “We have three basketball games and two wrestling meets this week, so there are no breaks really.”

Currently, Graves is 14-1 at heavyweight as he looks to build on last year’s fourth place finish at state wresting. In basketball, he is averaging 22.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for Southeast Valley, currently 7-3 on the season.

“It’s been going well,” Graves said. “My goal this year is to win a state championship in wrestling and make it to state in basketball, so we’re still chasing those.”