The annual Whataburger Super Team features the elite high school football players from across the state, and Stephenville High School’s Gage Graham fit that rare mold.
Graham, a senior who helped lead the Yellow Jackets in multiple roles, is one of only 40 players named from all classifications to the 2019 Super Team released this week by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine in partnership with Whataburger.
Fans nominated players for the Whataburger Super Team online, and the final voting ballot was published last November on Dave Campbell’s website. Fans then voted on their favorite players to be on the team.
Dave Campbell’s website notes that fans cast more than 300,000 ballots on TexasFootball.com.
The Super Team includes players from all classifications in Texas, including the largest schools, in Class 6A. The Super Team features 15 offensive and 15 defensive players.
“That’s what is so special about it, that it’s not just 4A — and there are only 40 of them,” said SHS head coach Greg
On defense, Graham was second on the team in tackles in 2018 with 119 in 11 games, behind only linebacker Blu Caylor with 152. Graham intercepted three passes, which tied for the team lead with Chase Carrillo and Cody Storrs. Graham scored one touchdown, on an interception return. He also caused two fumbles and recovered one.
Not only did Graham make a huge impact with his play as a safety in the defensive secondary, he was also a skilled punt and kick returner as well as catching 11 passes as a receiver on offense during the 2018 season.
As a junior, Graham recorded 146 tackles and intercepted five passes on defense, and caught 38 passes for 115 yards.
“In other words, he could do it all,” said Winder, whose 2018 team reached the second round of the 4A Division I playoffs and finished at 7-4. “It’s a special honor for Gage (because of) all the hard work he put into it, and his dedication.”
Winder, a longtime assistant with the Yellow Jackets before becoming head coach to start the 2015 season, said that Graham’s versatility ranks him “right up there” among some of the best defensive performers he has seen at SHS.
“Very few can do what Gage has done,” Winder said, adding that Graham is on the SHS A Honor Roll. “He’s just a great athlete; he can run and catch. And he is a very good student.
“He comes from a great family. He was a leader of our football team. He led on the field. He wasn’t a big screamer or talker. He’s not a real big kid (5-11, 180), but you don’t have to be as long as you have a big heart.”
On Monday during the SHS football banquet, Graham and Caylor were voted by their teammates as the Jackets’ Defensive Co-Most Valuable Players for 2018. Following Graham’s junior season, he was voted as the team’s Defensive MVP for the 2017 season, when the Jackets reached the state semifinals and finished with an 11-3 mark.
Both Graham and Caylor earned 2018 second-team all-state honors for Class 4A from the Associated Press Sports Editors in December, and offensive lineman Lane York received honorable mention.
Graham’s versatility earned his spot on the Super Team was one of four defensive players designated as “Utility” players, along with Jack Koetting of Canadian, Anfernee Orji of Rockwall and Marcus Riley of New Braunfels.
The Whataburger Super Team also had four primarily offensive players who were named as Utility performers.
Winder said he has spoken with him a few times about his desire to play football at the college level, but Graham has not committed to a particular school.
Dave Campbell’s website noted that the current Whataburger Super Team includes players committed to play college football for schools such as Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Ohio State and UCLA.