What a Difference Two Years Makes

Football analyst Mitchell Fish looks back at the early years of one of Texas Tech's most prolific offensive players in history. A player who fans didn't want as the starter at different points during his inaugural campaign, he now finds himself the highly-touted Heisman front-runner and holds a special place in Red Raiders' hearts.

Two years ago, gas prices were just beginning to climb, very few people outside of the banking industry had heard about Sub-prime mortgages, and Michael Vick was the Atlanta Falcons star quarterback and not a guest of the Federal government.

These things all changed during the last two football seasons, and change has also come to the Red Raiders quarterback position.

Graham Harrell did not start out his career as a stellar quarterback. Sure, he had moments in his first two starts against SMU and UTEP. There was the brutal game against TCU in the scorching DFW summer-time weather (sidebar: what stadium runs out of water at a football game in September???)

And then there was the brilliant touchdown pass to Robert Johnson to beat Texas A&M, one of the most dramatic moments in Tech football history and one that should have instilled faith in the then sophomore signal-caller.

Yet it would only take a week before fans were calling for Harrell to be pulled from a game, and for good reason. In his first start against the University of Missouri, Harrell turned the ball over five (that right, five) time including two interceptions returned for touchdowns and three lost fumbles.

To say that Harrell struggled would be akin to saying that John McCain was just barely edged out by Barack Obama.

Thinking that things would get better the next week, they instead got worse as Harrell threw three interceptions and lost another fumble as Tech fell to the winless University of Colorado.

Yet since that blustery cold day in Colorado, Harrell is 22-6 as the Red Raiders starting quarterback. four of those six losses came against ranked teams (The University of Texas twice, @ Oklahoma in 2006, and @ Mizzou in 2007) and three of those four losses were on the road.

Raider fans have had the opportunity to watch a sometimes confused/uncertain sophomore from Ennis, Texas turn into one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the history of Texas Tech or the Big XII.

Notching two historic bowl wins, including the largest ever come-from-behind bowl victory in NCAA history, the first victory against the #1 team in the country in school history, and leading Tech to its highest ranking in any poll, ever.

It's humorous to look back at that game against Missouri, when fans were clamoring for a "much better" and "more talented" Chris Todd to be inserted into the game. Look where the two players are now, as Todd has quarterbacked Auburn to a 4-5 record while Harrell and company ride the Big XII's longest winning s streak.

The point of this story, however, is not to point out the misgivings that Tech fans may have had about the young kid from Ennis. It is to point out the incredible transformation that fans have been able to witness, each weekend, for the two plus seasons.

While past contenders Miami, Florida State, Clemson, Cal, Tennessee, and others have had a revolving door policy at quarterback Tech has had the rarest of rare luxuries to have a more than capable man under center and in the shotgun.

Look no further than last week's game-winning 28-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. With all the pressure in the world on his shoulders, "G-Money" fired a perfect pass and launched himself and the Red Raiders firmly into the National Spotlight.

So don't take #6 for granted, because while he's not perfect, he is Tech's quarterback.

And won't be here forever….


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