Graham Harrell's shaping of the WSU wideouts

LEWISTON -- He isn't playing anymore, but Graham Harrell brings the same high energy and passion to coaching that he did on the field as a star quarterback for Texas Tech under Mike Leach. Through eight days of fall camp, there are two givens to the proceedings: temperatures at or near 100 degrees and Harrell's animated coaching.

“Whenever the receivers are out there I try to keep my energy high,” the outside receivers coach tells “Our outside guys run a lot, taking a lot of hits and they need to work through the hits, and that’s what I try to tell them.”

Harrell's cheering, clapping and hollering keep his guys focused and upbeat.

His unit includes standout veterans Dom Williams and Gabe Marks, but is mostly made up of untested talent.

“All the receivers have done a good job,” Harrell said. “Kyrin Priester, Daniel Lilienthal, Tavares Martin Jr. and C.J. Dimry have been doing some great things.

Zaire Andre is killing it too. He’s working hard and getting better,” Harrell said. “Kaleb Fossum is also a guy that’s out there and doing everything we ask, and makes plays when the ball comes to [him].”

Harrell brings unique perspective to his work with receivers. At Texas Tech, he was on the throwing end of an NCAA-record 134 career TD passes and a near-record 15,793 air yards. He parlayed that into four pro seasons -- three in the NFL and one in the CFL.

“I try to give the receivers a quarterback’s perspective,” he said. “I can watch tape with them and they’ll say ‘See I’m open right here,’ and I go ‘yes, but the quarterback needs you over here.’

“Having played in the (Air Raid) system, I can help them understand what’s going through the quarterback’s mind and what he needs out of his receivers,” Harrell said.

Harrell is in his first season as a full-fledged assistant coach, having served an an offensive analyst in 2014, but he appears to be fitting in nicely in his new role as coach. He and inside receivers coach Dave Yost have a good relationship -- and they don't hesitate to mess with each other from time to time.

“Yost is an interesting guy, he’s fun. He thinks he’s a beach guy out there with his long hair,” Harrell said. “It’s great working with him, and sometimes he’ll talk to the outside guys and I’ll talk to the inside receivers, but we’re all pulling for the same goal and that is to win games.”

One of the more difficult tasks for receivers is when the play breaks down and the quarterback is scrambling. According to Harrell, watching tape and showing guys where to look is the biggest tool to help them really understand where they can and need to go to help the QB.

“When a quarterback is in trouble, the receivers need to find space,” he said. “The receivers [must] be able to look around and identify openings when their quarterback is scrambling around.”

One guy who will be a major addition to the line up this season will be Marks, WSU's leading receiver in 2014 who redshirted last year ostensibly to mature.

“Marks is going to be a huge lift for this offense coming back,” Harrell said. “He competes every play, and to have a guy like that come back and be healthy, he’s going to be a huge lift for this offense.”

Marks led the Cougars in receiving as a sophomore in 2013, catching 74 balls for 807 yards (10.9 per grab) and 7 TDs.

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