Although Buffalo's team won't be playing in the Super Bowl, the Queen City will still have a chance to cheer on one of its own. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti spoke with Buffalo native and Baltimore Ravens player Corey Graham, and his high school coach, as he prepares to take on the 49ers.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "He's doing an outstanding job and I'm sure he'll do an outstanding job in the Superbowl."
Willie Burnett saw the potential in Ravens cornerback Corey Graham when he coached him at Turner Carroll High School in Buffalo.
"The first couple practices I walked up to him and said, 'you're going to be something special, young man,'" said Burnett.
Burnett says hard work both in the classroom and on the field helped the 27-year-old get to this point - just days away from playing the biggest game of his life so far.
"I'm just trying to get ready for the game. Do the same things I've done all season, and keep my eyes in the right place and just have fun.You want to go out there and embrace the moment, have fun and enjoy the game of football," said Graham in a phone interview.
A game he's enjoyed since childhood, and though he's a Raven now, he grew up cheering on the Bills.
"Big time Bills fan, I used to actually go to the games a lot when I was a kid, my uncle had season tickets and I used to go to the games all the time. I remember some of the tough times we had there with the Super Bowls and that nature," said Graham, "But now I'm going through it right now, seeing six years in a league, my first Super Bowl seeing how tough it is to get to the Super Bowl, makes me appreciate so much more what the Bills were able to accomplish throughout those years."
Though Turner Carroll has closed, Burnett still works with local athletes as an athletic performance trainer - and Graham during the off season.
Burnett said, "He is definitely who I talk about all the time, when I'm training athletes and I tell them, hard work, dedication, that's what it takes."
"He's been there for me and been helping me out through this process, and it's been amazing and he's part of the reason why I'm here," said Graham.
And Graham says in reaching the pinnacle of his profession, he's achieving his dream.
"You've got to believe in yourself, believe in your abilities, never give up on your dreams. If you've got a dream and you feel like you want to accomplish something, go for it," said Graham.
Graham says several of his family members will be in New Orleans cheering him on at Sunday's game.