The absence of the pectoral muscle, though it brings some stares whenever he's shirtless in the gym, has never affected Graves's play. But when he was a kid, the area of his chest where there is no natural padding between bone and skin led doctors to fear that a blow there would break some ribs. It has never happened. Even after the asthma and most of his allergies abated early in elementary school, he says, "I caught so much grief from my mother, for the longest time, about trying to play sports."
"I worried about the muscle, I worried about his being so small, and I worried because, at the time, he was my only child," says Rose Marie, who 14 years ago gave birth to a daughter by her second husband, William Pee.
The missing muscles have not hampered Graves's ability to throw the ball, much less to run the Wofford offense. Over the past two seasons the Terriers have gone 18-6 and have twice made it to the Division II playoffs, but they have not advanced beyond the second round, losing both times to perennial Division II power Mississippi College. This season the Terriers again should make it to the playoffs, in which the company will likely be defending champion Pittsburg (Kans.) State, Jacksonville State and East Texas State, which meets the Pitt State Gorillas the second week of the regular season.
Having failed twice during Graves's career to make it to the division championship game, Wofford has never been seen on television, even regionally. He has been a treasure reserved for private showings, mostly at little Snyder Field, capacity 6,500. There Graves dazzles the crowd with the Wofford wishbone, which, he says, is so foolproof that "it's kind of like stealing." At the same time, no opposing quarterback can run the wishbone on the Wofford defense. Says Graves, "I tell our defensive guys at practice, 'You've got to focus on the belly button. That's not going to move.' If I can get a guy to look into my eyes, he's finished." He smiles. "Then again, sometimes I can make my belly button move. If I can get a defensive guy to shift his weight slightly one way, I've got him. I know I've got him."
The moves Graves, a business economics major, envisions in his future involve the intricate mechanics of money. He wants to get into financing corporate deals. Graves worked as a sportswriter during the summer of '91 for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, but that is not for him. "Frankly, you guys don't make enough money," he says. "That was just something for me to enjoy for a while."
But not something to be taken lightly. Graves wrote a story for the Herald-Journal about Steve Davis, USA Today's high school athlete of the year for 1991, who turned out to be a Prop 48. "He's 6'3", 220, runs a 4.32 40, played at Spartanburg High School," says Graves. "In my story I criticized Auburn University. I just felt like they took him because he was such a good athlete—and in theory that's what they're supposed to do. But I think they should have been considerate enough of the kid to let him go to a junior college and get himself straight academically. Suppose he goes there and does great in football but he's not able to stay on his books? Suppose he goes to the first day of practice and breaks his leg or hyperextends his knee and can never play again? Then what's Auburn going to do for him? Those are just questions that I ask."
He reflects again on his own recruiting experience. "I can remember some of the guys I know who went to big schools," he says. "I haven't heard of them since."
Likely, they've heard of him. And it's likely they'll hear more, from corporate offices higher than the highest lights of a stadium.