Card: Panini Contenders 2013
Acquired: 2017, EBay
Ray Graham played football at Pitt from 2009 to 2012. He put together increasing numbers in each year, culminating in his Senior year when he ran 222 times for 1042 yards and 11 TDs. Over 4 years he had 595 carries for 3271 yards and 32 TDs. Ray also displayed a really nice touch out of the backfield, catching 98 passes, including 36 in his Senior year. Considered more of a slasher at the pro level, scouts tore apart his game and did not feel that Ray had the size to play at the pro level. He went unselected in the 2013 NFL Draft but signed a free agent contract with the Houston Texans.
The Texans were looking for runningback help. As nagging injuries were catching up with Arian Foster and Ben Tate, the Texans were looking for new blood to help out in the backfield. They signed a trio of free agents- all promising backs: Ray, Cierre Wood, and Dennis Johnson. Ray had a decent preseason scoring a really nice TD against the Vikings, and as a natural zone runner, I really liked his style, but unfortunately in a game of numbers, he’d be cut- as the team opted to keep Wood. Graham was picked up by the Steelers and added to their practice squad.
As things would have it, Arian Foster went down due to injury. Wood blew his chance with the team violating an ‘unspecified team rule’ and was released. Graham found himself back on the squad and rushed 4 times for 8 yards. He’d also make one catch for 12 yards.
Ray had enough talent to probably take his game to another team in 2014 after he was cut, but currently is considered a free agent or retired from the sport.
Card: Leaf Rookies & Stars 2005 (030/150)
Acquired: 2016, EBay
See Also: Sloan Thomas, Sloan Thomas (2)
I absolutely love this card of Sloan. Leaf had a habit of breaking the design grid with their Rookies & Stars set in such a unique way, but in a sense with such deliberation, and the autograph is showcased so well. About the only thing I don’t like is how tiny the Texans logo is, but overall it’s a quality design. Leaf continually and slowly tweaked the design of their Rookies & Stars set so professionally over the years, it felt like I was buying a Corvette every year.
Sloan finished out his degree at UT in Communication after his NFL career concluded. After helping UTSA put itself on the map in division one football, he moved on to the corporate world and as of 2017 is with Alamo Title Company working in their Commercial and Corporate Business Development department.
Card: Panini Contenders 2016
Acquired: 2016, Box Breaker
Ryan Malleck played for Virginia Tech from 2012-2015. He saw action in 33 games, recording 62 receptions for 658 yards and 4 touchdowns. Scouts felt he had the size to work the field as a tight end at the pro level but felt his blocking needed some polish. He went unselected in the 2016 NFL Draft. Since that time Malleck has stayed busy, logging time on the Giants, Steelers, Ravens, and later in 2017- the Houston Texans. He made his first professional catch while with Houston for 3 yards. Ryan resigned with the Steelers in 2018, but was waived and placed on IR for the 2018 season after an undisclosed injury.