Inside the Mind of a Champion

Even with all of the national media attention Graham Harrell has been receiving over the past few weeks, the Red Raiders' field general has kept a level head and remained focused on his ultimate goal: win every game he plays. The excitement in and around Lubbock has increased exponentially throughout the season and catapulted upward even more the past two weeks.

Even with all of the national media attention Graham Harrell has been receiving over the past few weeks, the Red Raiders' field general has kept a level head and remained focused on his ultimate goal: win every game he plays.

The excitement in and around Lubbock has increased exponentially throughout the season and catapulted upward even more the past two weeks with huge victories over #1 Texas and #9 Oklahoma State.

"We've been getting a lot more attention down here, that's for sure," said Harrell. "There is a lot more excitement in the community and around campus. As far as the players go, we're just trying to stay focused and continue to try improving as a team. But I think things have changed a lot."

Harrell has been in the spotlight for several years since being named the starting quarterback as a sophomore back in 2006. But this year everything has moved to another plane.

In a modern day world of text messaging and social networking websites, Harrell doesn't get much of a break from people wanting to congratulate him for the Red Raiders' tremendous success so far this season.

"My phone will only let me hold 180 [text messages] at a time so after 180 I have to delete them," explained Harrell. "During a day sometimes I have to delete them two or three times. I am a Facebook guy. But I don't check it too much because it's gotten kind of overwhelming now."

And then there's the Heisman Trophy, which traditionally is given to college football's premiere player of the year. As of late though, it's been awarded to the best quarterback or running back on the best team (unless of course you play for a 9-4 Florida team and are one of the coveted media darlings.)

As for Harrell's Heisman Trophy favorite at this point in the season?

"That's a tough question. There are definitely a lot of deserving people out there. I think the Heisman Trophy is becoming an award more about team wins than individual numbers. But we have won just as many games as anyone else. I feel like Crab [Michael Crabtree] and I both deserve to be looked at, but at the same time, if I had a vote today, I'd probably give it to Crab. He deserves all the awards he can get."

And Crabtree?

"He would probably say me just because that's the kind of guy he is. But he is a very team-oriented player, works hard, and there's no question he is a huge part of the success of this team."

Despite the media circus surrounding him, Graham is concentrating on the biggest obstacle left in his path to a Big 12 title and a berth in the national championship game- the showdown in two weeks with #5 Oklahoma in Norman.

"We look forward to the challenge," Harrell enthused. "Being in the Big 12, you're going to face some of the more elite programs in the country and it's going to be a challenge. Not every team is going to have that chance to face top-ranked teams. It's tough to play but it's exciting and we look forward to the challenge every week.

"In the past, we got down to those teams and would lose the mentality," he continued. "There was more doubt on the sidelines and stuff but now after big wins against teams like that, now we know we can compete against teams like that. We're confident in any game, stick to our game plan and do what we do in practice every day. Just go out and have fun. This has been building for a few years now and we're excited. We are now proving we can play with anyone, any year."

And while Harrell will undoubtedly be preparing tirelessly to help his team get the win against the Sooners, he had also better prepare even more craziness if they succeed. The 400+ text messages a day he receives now will be small potatoes if the Red Raiders can indeed overcome the OU Sooners and move one step closer to a BCS National Championship.



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