Graham Harrell - Harrell's spring went much like his debut season as a starter, up and down. Harrell started the spring looking much like he did at the end of the 2006 season, efficient and crisp with just enough confidence to rebound from any mistake that he made. His reads were right on and done in the correct amount of time. Yet, as spring progressed, Harrell's confidence started to wane.
Graham seemed to have started thinking about making the correct throw instead of trusting his instincts and making the throw that he felt was right. His decision making deteriorated and he looked confused and flustered throughout the middle part of spring practice. For some reason, Harrell lost the ability to rebound from making a mistake and spiraled down until it appeared that he had regressed to a Missouri/Colorado type of player.
Harrell did begin to rebound as practice progressed and his confidence returned to him slowly but sure. He started making the correct read at the correct time again and his pocket presence became better, as did his willingness to really let a ball fly if the situation called for it. Harrell became the same confident player that licked his lips when Minnesota tried to blitz during the Insight Bowl and he once again looked like a seasoned veteran.
Graham showed three sides of himself during the spring. He showed the one that was seen in the second half of the Insight bowl, a calm and dangerous player that can make all the throws and lead the Air Raid back to its' glory days. He showed the Mizzou/Colorado side, confused and unconfident in himself and the players around him. And Harrell showed a new player, one that has yet to be seen. Smart, quick with his release, reading the entire field (not just he right side…), and showing a combination of great arm strength along with terrific touch.
Overall, Harrell had a successful spring but the success or failure of the 2007 season will ultimately rest with Harrell. If he can make his reads quick and throw the ball well, the offensive line will benefit and he could be the best quarterback in the Big XII if not the entire country. If Harrell relapses into his unconfident and timid self, then he could spend the majority of the 2007 season picking himself up off of the turf.
Taylor Potts - Taylor Potts had the most marked improvement of any of the quarterbacks during the 2007 spring camp. Potts actually started the spring working with the scout team but rapidly progressed into a capable (although inexperienced) quarterback.
Potts' real growth started during the first scrimmage of the spring. It seemed like all of the cylinders started to fire together as Taylor read the field quickly, made smart decision with the football, and knew when to use his "laser, rocket arm" as well as knowing when to put a little touch under a pass. Potts also seemed to re-light the old connection that he had with high school teammate Lyle Leong as the two would often hook up with Taylor at the helm of the Air Raid offense.
Potts' was actually said to be in contention for the starting quarterbacks job because of his high level of play during the portion of spring when Harrell was struggling but Potts was then eclipsed by Harrell in the later stages of spring.
While Potts is not ready to be a starting quarterback he has the potential to be a very good back-up for the time being and a phenomenal starting quarterback once he has more time in the system coupled with real game experience.
Steven Sheffield - Steven Sheffield is the type of player that will drive a coach absolutely insane. He will use his gangly right arm and absolutely launch a perfect pass downfield and on the next play he will overthrow a wide open running back who is 6 yards away from him by a mile.
Sheffield did end the spring running the scout team but as his knowledge of the Air Raid increases, along with his weight, he could one day challenge for the starting quarterback's position. Sheffield has the frame, footwork, and arm strength to be a Division 1 quarterback, it is just getting all of those parts to work together.
Sheffield's style of play can actually conjure up memories of former Red Raider quarterback Cody Hodges, primarily because of his willingness to tuck the ball and run should the need arise. For a 6 foot 5 inch tall 180 pound football player, Sheffield is deceptively fast and showed off good speed during the spring
Overall for Sheffield, it is just spending more time adding weight and learning the system that will improve his stature and position on the depth chart.
The quarterbacks had a good spring and each player grew in his own way. All three need to be more consistent in their reads but there is no question that Graham Harrell is by far the best quarterback on the Texas Tech roster, just as there is no question that Taylor Potts could be the next Sonny Cumbie (minus the 6.0 second forty of course…) and that Steven Sheffield is a scrappy player that works hard for his spot on the team.
While none of the three on the roster at quarterback are world beaters, Harrell and Potts have the potential to do just that, and along the way put Texas Tech on top of the Big XII in more than just passing yards and passing touchdowns.