Football: McGraw audibles to Lake Zurich for senior year
Winning the quarterback job for a perennial winner, even with his experience, won't be easy.
But then, Matt McGraw knows winning is hard.
McGraw, who will finish up his junior year at Grant next week, is transferring to Lake Zurich. He has been the starting quarterback for Grant's varsity football team the last two years.
"It's definitely going to be tough leaving all my friends and everybody behind at Grant," McGraw said. "I have a lot of good friends there that I've been growing up with forever."
With McGraw under center, Grant finished 2-7 in each of the last two years. Lake Zurich lost to Batavia in overtime of the Class 7A state championship game last fall and has gone to the state playoffs 15 times in the last 16 years, finishing second four times and winning the Class 7A title in 2007.
Lake Zurich's QB job is vacant, as all-stater Evan Lewandowski is graduating. McGraw said he has not spoken to Lake Zurich head coach Luke Mertens and knows there is no guarantee that he will step into the starting quarterback position at his new school.
Mertens will be his third head coach in as many years.
"Everything there is going to be earned, not given," McGraw said. "I'm expecting that. Lake Zurich is such a storied program with a lot of tradition, especially coming off the great season and great run that they've had."
Last season, the 6-foot-4, 186-pound McGraw completed 64 of 154 passes for 894 yards with 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. The three-sport athlete has no scholarship offers but said he has received interest from Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois and Western Michigan.
"I think probably the biggest part of my game that needs to be improved is the mental game," McGraw said. "I think being on a good team and playing with all those great players that they have will make me a lot better as a quarterback."
He also wants to improve his mobility and, in an effort to do that, competed track and field this spring (high jump, triple jump). He said he's improved his 40-yard dash time.
He has built friendships with some Lake Zurich players, including Jack Moses, who started at slot wide receiver as a sophomore last season.
"I'm very excited," said McGraw, who also played basketball for Grant. "There's obviously going to be pressure, especially coming off the season that they had. There are going to be high expectations, but I'm ready to get going."
Grant head coach Chris Robinson had no hard feelings.
"We thank Matt for his last three years at Grant and hope he enjoyed his experiences," Robinson said. "We wish him the best of luck going forward. He has a strong arm and good knowledge of the game so we're excited to see where that takes him."
McGraw had only positive things to stay about Grant's program.
"Grant's on the rise," McGraw said. "They definitely have some good, young talent over there. The class below me went 9-0 as freshmen, and the freshman class right now went 7-2. They have stuff to build on for the future."