Checking in with TTU QB Graham Harrell

Last fall Texas Tech nabbed a recruit that could be the future of West Texas football. His name is <b>Graham Harrell</b> and he is just plain good.

In high school in Ennis, Texas, Harrell established himself as one of the state's premier quarterbacks by putting up record shattering numbers as early as his sophomore year when he took the reins at starting QB. That year he threw for a then-state record of 53 touchdowns leading the Lions to a 4A Division II state title. By the time December of 2003 rolled around Harrell had rewritten just about every category a quarterback could in the state schoolboy record books leaving his impression for years to come.

Let's see, where to begin.

How about 12,532 yards and 167 touchdowns in three years, ranking him as the state's all-time leading passer. Oh ok, that's not enough for you. What about 4,825 yards and 67 touchdowns in his senior year alone. This included completing 244 out 373 passes and leading the Lions to an undefeated regular season while averaging 53.8 points a game. Against district rival Waxahachie last season Harrell passed for 573 yards and touchdowns.

Alright, so numbers don't do it for you, huh? (Guess you must not be a Texas Tech fan.) How about awards?

Harrell was the 2003 Gatorade Texas Player of the year, a member of the EA Sports All-American team, a member of the PrepStar All-American Team, the Dallas News Offensive Athlete of the Year, and the two-time 4A Offensive Player of the Year.

This kid must have had a dozen letter jackets just to fit half the patches he earned.

Graham has been around football since the time he was a toddler. His father, Sam Harrell, has coached high school ball ever since Graham can remember and has had a huge impact on his life.

"He's had a ton (of influence on my life)," said Harrell. "In high school I was around him every day so he was the most influential person in my life. One, he was my father and two he was my head coach so I was basically around him all day. He's been a very positive, very good influence in my life.

In 1998 Ennis head coach Harrell switched the Lion's offensive scheme to the spread offense while Graham was still in seventh grade. This change proved to be the catalyst which catapulted Ennis to the highest ranks in 4A football in Texas.

Graham started receiving letters of interest from major universities as early as his sophomore year. At that time he was not nearly his current height of 6'3, and not even close to 190 pounds which he weighs now. The Harrell household was daily flooded with offers from such national contenders as Georgia, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Purdue, and Wisconsin, yet in the end Texas Tech's style of play made the decision for Graham.

"The offense was a very attractive tool they use to try to get quarterbacks in the system," said Harrell. "(Mike Leach) is pretty much an offensive genius. It kind of worked out where I just felt at home here; staying in Texas and in the Big 12, and this way maybe my parents can come to a few more games."

Upon joining the Texas Tech squad back in August, Harrell quickly saw how competition was thriving for the highly touted quarterback position under Leach's perennial Playstation offense. Knowing that he was going to be redshirted this season and understanding that Sonny Cumbie had already won the starting job has given Harrell the opportunity to focus on learning this offense.

"This year I just want to master the offense," Harrell said. "I think I've got it down pretty good, but you have to really get it down completely before you will get on the field. Now I am focusing on putting a little weight on and getting ready for the future.

Next year is a different story.

"All you want is to compete," Harrell said. "Sooner of later it's going to be my time. Of course, I want it to be sooner, but Cody (Hodges) has been here four years so he is probably next in line. I just want to come, complete, and play when it's my turn.

So, for now, Graham has found his niche on the Texas Tech practice field learning this ever complicated offense and looking towards the future. Numbers aren't everything, but with big numbers often come big wins.

This weekend Texas Tech will battle Big 12 rival Texas on Saturday at Jones SBC stadium at 6pm. The game will be nationally televised on TBS.


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