Shortly after the arrival of Quarterbacks Coach Jeff Horton on the UW coaching staff, there was an agreement made within the program that the Badgers would sign at least one quarterback every recruiting year, regardless of need.
Last year's signee came relatively easy, as Tyler Donovan, the top in-state quarterback, committed to the Badgers more than a year before Signing Day. This year, obtaining a top quarterback will take a lot more legwork. But if the Badgers can somehow lure Graham Harrell to Madison, all of that work could pay off in a big way.
Harrell is a dynamite prospect from Ennis, Tex., where he is regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in the state. The 6-3, 185-pound gunslinger is the son of Ennis Head Coach Sam Harrell, and much like Brooks Bollinger, Harrell exhibits all of the positive attributes of a coach's son.
The well-spoken, polite senior is thrilled about all of the attention he's receiving from major college programs. But that hasn't come as much of a surprise.
As a sophomore, Harrell led his team to an undefeated 16-0 record and state championship, throwing for 3,972 yards and 53 touchdowns. He followed up that performance with a 3,411 yard, 46 touchdown season last year. He also rushed for 1,055 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"I had a great sophomore year, and after that I figured if I could just do it again for two more years, I would really have a chance to play some big-time football," Harrell said. "I guess right now it's paying off, with all the schools offering me and getting letters."
Harrell has been impressed with Horton, who is not only the Badgers' quarterbacks coach, but Harrell's primary recruiting contact.
"I like Wisconsin," Harrell said. "They've obviously offered, and they've been real nice to me and all that. I like everything I've heard about them. I also like Georgia and Texas Tech, and I talked to North Carolina State the other day and they were real nice and offered. They are probably one of my favorites right now too."
Much like the Bollinger stories we've heard over the years, Harrell grew up on the football field and inside locker rooms. As soon as Harrell was old enough to play pee wee football, he decided to emulate his hero, Joe Montana, and play quarterback. He hasn't looked back since.
"I've been around football my whole life," Harrell said. "I've always had a football in my hands around the house, throwing it, holding it, just handling the ball. Then as I got a little older, I went to all the games, learned some of our (spread) offense, the types of defenses they played against and stuff like that. Now that I'm on varsity, I can talk to (my dad) about anything I think about, our opponents and what defenses they will give us, anything. I think it's helped a ton to have him as my coach."
Harrell said from the time he was little, he dreamed of playing college football and competing in front of large crowds at major bowl games. His long-term dream is to play in the NFL.
But first, he needs to decide where the best place is for him. He has a number of factors in the forefront of his mind.
"The type of offense they run is really important, because I'm not really an option quarterback," Harrell said. "I'm more of a passing quarterback, so the type of offense will probably be the first thing I will look at. Other than that, I will probably look at the coaches and how they are, the chances we are going to have to win, and the chances I'm going to have to play."
Harrell doesn't have any plans to participate in camps this summer, but he will visit some campuses, and begin to research each program's past history, present situation and project his outlook within each system.
While Harrell said he doesn't have any plans to commit early, if everything feels right on a particular unofficial or official visit, he can visualize himself making an early decision. And despite the variety of options to play college football in the lone star state, Harrell said location won't factor much into his decision.
"I don't think that's going to be too big of a deal," Harrell said. "Being close to home would be nice, but there aren't many colleges around here that are going to give me a (scholarship). It's a bigger deal for my mom than it is for me. It might play into it a little bit, but not too much. I don't think it would be a big deal for me to leave the state."
Texas Blue-Chip QB Likes Wisconsin
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