JACKSON TWP — Graham Hancox did not know that he was on the Indiana (Pa.) University football program's radar.
"They didn't contact me until mid-December," said the Seneca Valley senior quarterback, "but they said they had been keeping track of me all season."
In a relatively short time, the Crimson Hawks made quite an impression with Hancox, who signed a letter of intent Wednesday to continue his athletic and academic careers at IUP.
"Some Division I schools wanted me to be a preferred walk-on, but I really wasn't interested in that," Hancox said. "I wanted to go to a place where I was wanted.
"I talked with a few other PSAC schools ... Clarion, Slippery Rock and Cal, but IUP is definitely the right fit for me. I want to be part of something bigger than myself and that's what IUP is all about."
Since first learning of IUP's interest, Hancox was often in contact with IUP offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Larry Wilson.
"He said they like my size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and my arm strength," said Hancox, who passed for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns along with scoring eight times on the ground last fall. "They see me as a player they can develop."
Hancox was one of 22 high school players who signed with IUP, which is led by head coach Paul Tortorella. In five seasons at the helm, Tortorella has guided the Crimson Hawks to an overall record of 48-11, including a PSAC championship last fall.
"Our coaching staff did an outstanding job in finding high quality student-athletes with character and talent on the football field," said Tortorella in a released statement. "We believe this is a group that can help carry on the winning tradition within our program."
As the Crimson Hawks gain Hancox’s ability and potential, he leaves big shoes to fill at Seneca Valley.
“He has the size and strength, but Graham’s football IQ made him a better player the last two years,” said SV coach Ron Butschle. “He’s a football junkie, is always watching film and his ability to read defensive coverages improved a lot.”
Hancox has played football since he was 7 years old.
"I didn't become a quarterback until my freshman season, was a tight end and defensive end before that," he said. "But I always had a good arm and was a pitcher in baseball until my sophomore year."
Due to injuries suffered by teammates, Hancox was thrust into starting a WPIAL playoff game against North Allegheny his sophomore year. The Raiders lost, but Hancox knew the experience would benefit him.
"My dad told me that NA had the second-ranked defense in the state. He said I wasn't going to face another high school defense as good as that. From that point on, everything became easier for me."
He was on pace for a 2,000-plus yard passing season in 2021, but missed the last four games with a sprained foot.
"Ryan Lehmeier (now the head coach at Central Catholic) was our offensive coordinator the last two years and he taught me so much. I've been a quarterback for only four years, but have really gotten a feel for the game."