September 19, 2008

Rihn Brings Versatility to ‘D’

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When football head coach Jim Knowles ’87 said that senior linebacker Graham Rihn knew how to “handle himself socially,” it was hard to know exactly what he meant.
Get introduced to Rihn, though, and you get what Knowles was talking about. Despite a recently-minted cast on his broken right hand, Rihn still walks up to you and offers his club-for-a-hand to shake. Some would feel awkward; Rihn smiles confidently and meets your gaze.
“He’s outgoing, but he knows where the lines are,” Knowles said. “He’s just that kind of kid. He has the respect of the team because of the way he plays the game and handles himself.”
The way Rihn plays the game is with energy, not to mention talent. The Red voted Rihn as a captain this year because of his magnetic personality. Rihn is a potential All-Ivy first-team selection this year because of his talent. Rihn is coming off a season that saw him do a bit of everything — he led the team in tackles for a loss with 10, forced fumbles with two and blocked kicks with two. Playing as both a lineman and a linebacker, Rihn was all over the field, dropping back to break up four passes and rushing through the line for his two sacks.
While Rihn refers to his role last year as a “glorified defensive lineman,” he said he’ll be playing almost exclusively linebacker this year. Rhine also said he has tried to focus on something that might be hard for many Cornell students — not thinking and just doing.
“If there’s one thing I’ve committed myself to, it’s focusing on just playing football,” Rihn said. “Football’s a tough physical sport and I think in the past we’ve done a lot of thinking around here. We went over it in the spring — fly around, hit people; it’s a simple game if you think about. Its how hard you want to play, and we’re going to commit ourselves to play very hard and physical. It’s a mindset change.”