Graham's character developed as he watched his mother, Thelma Ruth, suffer under the burden of raising four children on her own. Graham is the youngest; his father died when Scottie was seven. "My mother is my inspiration," he says. "I made her a promise: I would get my degree. I believe God gave me this athletic ability for a reason, and that is to get a college degree. Football will pass, but no one can ever take away an education."
An academic senior with two years of football eligibility remaining, Graham says that if the NFL beckons after this season, he will tell them to wait. Graham intends to spend his fifth year at Ohio State, taking graduate courses in sports management, where he sees his future after football. Mention All-America to Graham, and he will guide you to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, to the section where pictures are displayed of former Ohio State academic All-Americas.
"I want to be an All-America," says Graham. "But I also want this: I want to be the first African-American player with my picture on this wall. I got off to a poor start academically my first semester. Then they called me in and said: Study or go home. I got the message. It just took me a while to realize the importance of an education."
Then he adds softly: "Academic All-America. That means something. When I walk across the stage with my diploma, that will make me the son I want to be for my mother."