Things will be different under WSU’s Harrell

AMONG THE THINGS that will change for Graham Harrell as the Cougs’ new outside wide receivers coach at Washington State is this: he will be running his own position meetings for the first time. Those meetings, he tells, will be different than how they went under former assistant Dennis Simmons.

“I just think each person has their own personality and handles things in a different way,” Harrell told CF.C. “I think I’ll have a different perspective of the offense than Dennis had. With them having been taught things from what Dennis knew and Dennis saw, and then putting my observations on top of that, I think it will be a benefit to the kids.”

Harrell, at 29, will be a full-fledged assistant coach for the first time, though he sounded like a seasoned pro during an interview with

“You’ve just got to be yourself. Dennis has his way of doing things and his personality and I’m going to have my way and my personality and I think that will be the main difference,” said Harrell.

But that won’t be the biggest change for Mike Leach’s new outside receivers coach.

“I think the biggest change is going to be recruiting,” said Harrell. “The football side of things, I’ll be able to do a little more on the field. But I was going to every practice, I was in every meeting, I was sitting in with Coach when he was watching film, we’d watch film together, every game planning meeting I was in on… But recruiting, that’s going to be a huge part of the role… that’s going to be the biggest role change.”

Harrell got a taste of being out on the recruiting trail in December when he was temporarily elevated to assistant coach after the firings of Mike Breske and Paul Volero. Now that he’s been installed as a full-time assistant, it sounds like he’s going to slide into Clay McGuire’s old recruiting territory, though he said the assistants’ recruiting regions aren’t final-final.

“They’re shuffling, what it looks like it’s going to be is the Sacramento area,” said Harrell. “With all the new staff in, they’ve had to adjust the areas. It looks like I’m going to have the area that Clay previously had. Back before (in December) I was spot recruiting basically… I was just all over the place – here, there, wherever they needed me… So it will definitely be different to have an area, to create relationships in that area and recruit it hard.”

AS AN ASSISTANT COACH for the first time, Harrell said two names come immediately to mind when asked who he might reach out to when he’s looking for insights. One is just a few feet down the hall from his office in the Cougar Football Complex.

“I think one of the biggest advantages I have, one of the best resources I have is Coach Leach,” said Harrell. “He’s the one guy who more than anything that I can bounce ideas off of and talk to… and then I also think one of the best receiver coaches I’ve ever been around is Dana Holgorsen. I thought he did an unbelievable job with our guys at Texas Tech. So if I have any questions, specifics about receivers, he’s definitely a guy I would reach out to because I respect him, think he’s one of the best I’ve ever been around.”

Would he reach out to Dennis Simmons?

“(Laughs) Maybe,” said Harrell. “Like I said, I think I would talk to Dana first just because like I said, he’s a guy I really respect and who does it as well as anyone, and he knows receiver play in this offense as well as anyone. But Dennis did an excellent job and you have to give him a lot of credit for what he did… he did a good job with these guys and he was the receivers coach there for my senior year at Tech (in 2008, Simmons’ first as an assistant coach) and really helped our guys out there… But I think Dana would be one of the first guys I would reach out to for talking about receiver play.”

ON ANOTHER SUBJECT, one that gives insight into Harrell's personality, when I was at WSU a few months ago it was clear that Harrell was one of the bigger cut-ups around the Cougar Football Complex – and one of the most competitive. Harrell and McGuire had golfed and played racquetball with some WSU SID members months earlier and there was still some ribbing going on.

I asked Harrell this week who would win a friendly competition between “Team Texas” and a WSU SID team in racquetball, crossword puzzles or anything else. There was no hesitation and you could hear the smile in his voice.

“It doesn’t matter what the competition is, we win,” said Harrell. “It’s not even close. It doesn’t matter what the event is, we’re taking them down. We came up against those guys in a few events, and they tagged us with that (Team Texas label). But we don’t fight the tag.”

(It should be noted WSU SID disputes who has actually “won” any previous competitions).

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