Said Richardson: "You could see it in his eyes (the week after first Grant game). He wasn't going to let it happen again."
That kind of determination has allowed him to overcome his lack of height, a topic he's already grown tired of.
In the mold of Doug Flutie, Graves has just three scholarship offers: One from Air Force along with Football Championship Subdivision schools Sacramento State and Portland State.
His 6-foot brother David, the Sacramento Bee Player of the Year in 2008, is a quarterback at Hawaii, and their father Dave, a 6-3 strong safety, walked on and played at Cal Poly in the 1980s. Graves actually played receiver as a sophomore, catching 24 balls for 349 yards and four touchdowns from his brother.
Like college recruiters seem to be communicating now, Graves was told he was too small to put up the numbers he did in high school.
"It definitely drives me to prove others wrong," he said. "It angers me somewhat (not to have more offers) but I understand it. I've come to the realization how people think. It's just a reality."
Sacramento Bee writer Joe Davidson, who has covered high school sports in the region more than two decades, said Graves' strong team-first personality, along with athleticism, had allowed him to excel.
"Dano doesn't seem to realize or care a bit that he's supposedly too small to play the position," Davidson said. "Well, he's also too quick to corner, too instinctive and too accurate and too driven to deal with also."
Asked if Graves reminds him of any of the other area's greats — like Troy Taylor of Cordova (1985), Aaron Garcia of Grant (1987) or Randy Fasani of Del Oro (1996) — Davidson said absolutely not. All of those quarterbacks went on to have highly successful college careers and made it to the NFL.
"He blows them all away," Davidson said. "Not with the look test obviously, but because of how he leads his team, how he makes all the throws, how he runs like a tailback.
"He doesn't remind me of anyone because he absolutely stands alone."
Graves by the numbers
9,452: Two-year career total yards as quarterback
4,696: 2010 total yards
132: Total career touchdowns
85: Total 2010 touchdowns, a state record
69: Inches tall
7: National team ranking
4: Touchdown receptions as sophomore receiver
3: College scholarship offers
1: State Bowl championship; National Player of Year award