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Graham Harrell

Harrell in August 2007 during his time with the Texas Tech Red Raiders
No. 16     Saskatchewan Roughriders
Personal information
Date of birth: May 22, 1985 (1985-05-22) (age 24)
Place of birth: Brownwood, Texas
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Weight: 223 lb (101 kg)
Career information
College: Texas Tech
Undrafted in 2009
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
 As player:
Roster status: Active
CFL status: Import
Career highlights and awards

Graham Harrell (born May 22, 1985[1] in Brownwood, Texas) is a professional American and Canadian football quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. He was signed by the Roughriders as a street free agent in 2009. He played college football at Texas Tech.


Early years

Harrell played at Ennis High School in Ennis, Texas, where he was coached by his father Sam Harrell. He started at quarterback for three seasons and led the Fighting Lions to a state Class 4A title as a sophomore. He also played in the 2004 Oil Bowl, receiving the offensive MVP award.[2]

By the time he graduated, Harrell set Texas high school records in the following categories:[3]

  • Single-season passing yards (4,825 in 2003 over 15 games; the next two quarterbacks on the list set their records over 16-game seasons). This record stood until 2007 when Lake Travis quarterback Garrett Gilbert broke it by two yards (though he also did it over a 16-game season).[4]
  • Career passing yards (12,532 from 2000–2003; Gilbert broke this record in 2008 by compiling 12,534 yards).[5]
  • Single-season touchdown passes (67 in 2003)
  • Career touchdown passes (167 from 2000–2003)
  • Single-season pass completions (334 in 2003; also broken by Gilbert, who recorded 359 completions in 2007).[6]

In addition, Harrell ranks second in career pass completions (805 from 2000–2003).

College career


Freshman season

In 2004, Harrell redshirted during his first season at Texas Tech. The next season, as backup to quarterback Cody Hodges, he played in several games, racking up 422 passing yards.

Sophomore season

Harrell started in every game of the 2006 season and, with his 4,555 passing yards, became the third-most sophomore passer in NCAA Division I FBS history and first of the Big 12.[7][8] The 2006 regular season, which included wins against the Texas A&M Aggies and the Oklahoma State, ended with seven victories and five losses overall (4-4 in the Big 12) and an invitation to the 2006 Insight Bowl.[9]

The bowl game, played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, saw the Red Raiders struggle through the first three quarters, scoring only 14 points to the Minnesota Golden Gophers' 38. However, Tech's defense held Minnesota to zero points in the fourth quarter, while Harrell led the offense in scoring 24. In overtime, the Golden Gophers added only a field goal, but the Red Raiders scored a touchdown to win the game, 44–41, with the largest come-from-behind victory in NCAA FBS bowl history.[10]

Junior season

Prior to his junior season, Harrell announced that he will continue to play for the Red Raiders for the remainder of his college career instead of leaving early for the 2008 NFL Draft.[8] He reiterated this in December 2007.[11]

On September 27, 2007, Harrell was honored as AT&T's All-America Player of the Week.[12] The following Sunday, he appeared ninth on the list for's Top 10 Player Race for Week Five. Teammate Michael Crabtree was also on the list.[13] On October 11, 2007, AT&T announced that Harrell was again the AT&T All-America Player of the Week. This marked the second time in three weeks that he was honored with the award.[14] Harrell was the 2007 recipient of the Sammy Baugh Trophy recognizing the nation's top college passer.[15] He is the third Texas Tech quarterback to receive the award, following Kliff Kingsbury (2002) and B.J. Symons (2003).

Senior season

Entering his senior season, Harrell had 89 career passing touchdowns, putting him within range of Colt Brennan's NCAA record of 131 touchdowns.[16] Before the beginning of his final season, CBS Sports listed Harrell as a Heisman hopeful. Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree's name also appeared on the list.[17] Harrell was also named one of 26 candidates for the 2008 Unitas Award, given to the nation's best senior college football quarterback.[18] Additionally, his name appeared among 30 other quarterbacks in the Davey O'Brien Award watch list.[19] Harrell, along with Coach Mike Leach and teammate Michael Crabtree were featured on the cover of the 2008 edition of Dave Campbell's Texas Football.[20]

To support the Heisman campaign of both Harrell and Crabtree, Texas Tech created a website called, which is modeled after political campaigns. The site garnered national attention and was awarded a Telly Award which honors the best in local, regional, and cable commercials and programs, as well as online videos, films, and commercials.[21][22] After leading the Red Raiders to a victory over the #1 Texas Longhorns, Harrell and teammate Daniel Charbonnet were selected for Big 12 player of the week honors.[23] Harrell also leaped McCoy to make it to the top of the Heisman poll.[24] Harrell was also one of ten finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and one of thirteen finalists for the Davey O'Brien Award.[25][26][27]

Following the inaugural game of the 2008 season, where Texas Tech defeated the Eastern Washington Eagles, 49–24, Harrell was selected as the AT&T ESPN All-America Player.[28] After the Red Raiders 58–28 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats, Harrell received two more honors. He was recognized as the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and the O'Brien Quarterback of the Week.[29][30] During the game against Kansas State, Harrell broke the all-time record for passing yards at Texas Tech. The previous record, set by Kliff Kingsbury, was 12,429 yards. After the game, Harrell's record stood at 12,709 yards.[30] Following the 63–21 win over #18 Kansas on October 25, 2008, Harrell was again named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. Teammate Matt Williams was named the Special Teams Player of the Week.[31] After Tech's 65–21 loss to Oklahoma, Harrell reduced his chances at winning the Heisman.[32] Harrell finished fourth in the Heisman race but did not receive an invitation to attend the presentation ceremony. Michael Crabtree finished fifth.[33]

In the final regular season game against Baylor, Harrell shattered two of his fingers (the pinkie and middle finger) of his non-throwing hand during the second quarter. At halftime, Harrell's hand got x-rayed, and medical examiners advised Harrell to discontinue playing in the game. Harrell replied, "Tape my hand up. I'm going out." Harrell played the rest of the game with black tape around his fingers. He finished with 309 total passing yards and two touchdowns. With the victory, Tech clinched a share of the Big 12 South title, though fell short at going to the Big 12 Championship Game. On the day following the Baylor game, Harrell underwent a four-hour surgery, in which 17 pins and two plates were inserted into his injured hand to heal nine different breaks. He was later cleared to play in the postseason bowl game.[34]

On December 2, 2008, Harrell and teammate Michael Crabtree were named as Walter Camp Award finalists.[35]

On December 4, 2008, the American Football Coaches Association compiled their 2008 AFCA Coaches' All-American Team, with Harrell headlining the list.[36]

In December 2008, Harrell, Coach Mike Leach, Leach's wife, and Blayne Beal, the associate Tech media relations director, were in Baltimore for the presentation of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award to Harrell. While there, they received an invitation to Washington, D.C., to meet the president. On December 13, 2008, the group toured the White House and met with President George W. Bush, who disclosed that he watches college football on a regular basis. Bush also told Leach that he frequently talks with his 1978 congressional election rival, Kent Hance, the Texas Tech chancellor.[37]

On October 25, 2008, Graham Harrell passed Philip Rivers to move into sole possession of third place for passing yardage in a career. On November 22, 2008, Harrell passed Ty Detmer to move into second for passing yardage in a career behind Timmy Chang.[38] On January 2, 2009, Harrell played his final collegiate game, a 34-47 loss to Ole Miss in the 2009 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. In the game, Harrell finished his college career with an NCAA all-time record of 134 passing touchdowns, breaking the previous mark of 131 set by Colt Brennan. He also equaled Brennan's record of 147 career touchdowns passing, rushing, and receiving, a record that would be broken the following year by Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour. Harrell also compiled 5,111 passing yards in the season, becoming the first NCAA player to post multiple 5,000-yard passing seasons.[39]

Awards and honors

Harrell has received multiple honors, including the 2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

Season Honor Status Notes
2006 2006 Insight Bowl MVP Selected [10]
2006 Academic All-Big 12 Selected for first team [40]
2007 AT&T ESPN All-America Player of the Week Selected twice
2007 Sammy Baugh Trophy Winner
2007 Academic All-Big 12 Selected for first team [41]
2008 2008 Gator Bowl MVP Selected [42]
2008 AT&T ESPN All-America Player of the Week Selected four times
2008 Academic All-Big 12 Selected for first team Posted a 4.00 GPA[43]
2008 AFCA Coaches' All-American Selected [36]
2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Winner [44][45]
2008 Heisman Trophy Candidate Finished fourth[46]
2008 The Sporting News 2008 National Player of the Year Selected Co-national player of the year with Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy[47]
2008 AT&T All-America Player of the Year Winner Voted on by fans[48]

Professional career

Following his senior season at Texas Tech, Harrell entered the 2009 NFL Draft but went unselected.[49] He participated with the Cleveland Browns in their rookie camp the first weekend in May 2009 but was not signed.[50] UFL Access reported that Harrell will be working out in front of United Football League representatives in Las Vegas.[51]

On July 20, 2009, Harrell signed a two-year plus an option contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.[52]


Graham Harrell is the son of Sam and Kathy Harrell. He was born in Brownwood, where his father served as assistant coach to Gordon Wood. Harrell has an older brother, Zac, and a younger brother, Clark Harrell, who played a year at quarterback for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Clark transferred to Abilene Christian University after his freshman season at Tulsa.[53]

Sam Harrell, Graham's father, was the highest paid high school coach in Texas as of the 2005-06 academic year.[54] He coached at Reagan County (1990-1993) and Ennis (1994-present).

See also


  1. ^ Graham Harrell
  2. ^ "Texas Beats Oklahoma in 67th Annual Oil Bowl". Retrieved 2007-05-11.  
  3. ^ "SchoolDay: Oh, brother!". Dallas Morning News. 2005-09-15. Retrieved 2007-05-11.  
  4. ^ Davis, Danny (2007-01-10). "It took a while, but Lake Travis confirms Gilbert's third state record". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2008-02-07.  
  5. ^ "Lake Travis beats Longview, 48-23".  
  6. ^ "A truly Fabulous year for Lake Travis' Gilbert".  
  7. ^ "Big 12 football: Leaders". Retrieved 2007-05-11.  
  8. ^ a b "Harrell secure at helm of high-Tech offense". The Dallas Morning News. 2007-08-10. Retrieved 2007-08-15.  
  9. ^ "Texas Tech Red Raiders 2006 football Schedule". Retrieved 2007-05-11.  
  10. ^ a b "Down 31, Texas Tech rallies for biggest bowl comeback". 2006-12-29. Retrieved 2007-05-11.  
  11. ^ "Texas Tech QB Harrell confirms he’ll return for senior season". Dallas Morning News. 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2007-12-22.  
  12. ^ " - September 28, 2007: Tech's Harrell honored".  
  13. ^ " Top 10 Player Race - Week Five".  
  14. ^ "Harrell Selected for AT&T Honor - Again! :: Junior quarterback receives honor by way of fan vote after performance against Iowa State".  
  15. ^ "Harrell Captures Sammy Baugh Trophy". Retrieved 2007-11-27.  
  16. ^ Wolff, Josh (2008-07-05). "Shaking the ‘system’ label". Pro Football Weekly. Retrieved 2008-11-09.  
  17. ^ "Heisman Hopefuls". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2008-04-10.  
  18. ^ "MU's Chase Daniel on Unitas Award watch list".  
  19. ^ "2008 O’Brien Quarterback Award Watch List Released". Press release.  
  20. ^ "Campbell picks Cove to win District 12-5A". Killeen Daily Herald. 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2008-06-20.  
  21. ^ Williams, Don (2008-10-08). "Tech site gets national attention". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved 2008-10-10.  
  22. ^ Post, Sally Logue (2009-05-14). "Texas Tech Athletics Media Relations Office Heisman Campaign Wins National Award". Texas Tech University News. Retrieved 2009-05-14.  
  23. ^ "Big 12 notebook: Still more big games left". Retrieved 2008-11-07.  
  24. ^ "Harrell overtakes McCoy in Heisman poll". Austin American-Statesman. 2008-11-03. Retrieved 2008-11-07.  
  25. ^ "Harrell Among Unitas Finalists: Texas Tech senior quarterback one of 10 vying for prestigious award". Texas Tech Athletics. 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-10-19.  
  26. ^ "Harrell Among Unitas Finalists: Texas Tech senior quarterback one of 10 vying for prestigious award". KSCW. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2008-10-27.  
  27. ^ "Just another TT QB? No, Harrell is a shock to the system".  
  28. ^ "Texas Tech: Harrell Named AT&T All-America Player of the Week". NCAA. 2008-09-04. Retrieved 2008-09-05.  
  29. ^ Price, Dwain (2008-10-07). "Texas Tech: Graham Harrell named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week". Retrieved 2008-10-07.  
  30. ^ a b "Harrell named O'Brien Quarterback of the Week". NCAA. 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2008-10-07.  
  31. ^ "Harrell, Lewis and Williams Named Big 12 football Players of the Week". Big 12 Conference. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2008-10-27.  
  32. ^ "Dreams of Harrell, Texas Tech come crashing down".  
  33. ^ Thamel, Pete (2008-12-13). "A Few Heisman Nuggets". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-14.  
  34. ^ "Harrell has pins, plates put in left hand; should be fine for bowl".  
  35. ^ "Florida's Tebow, Charlie Strong finalists for national awards". St. Petersburg Times. 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2008-12-02.  
  36. ^ a b "Texas Tech's Harrell Headlines 2008 AFCA Coaches' All-American Team". American Football Coaches Association. 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2008-12-04.  
  37. ^ Don Williams, "Harrell, Leach tour White House", Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, December 14, 2008:
  38. ^ "'Oklahoma's message soundly delivered with destruction of Texas Tech".  
  39. ^ "Bold Miss: Texas Tech no match for Rebels, 47-34".  
  40. ^ Big 12 Conference (2006-11-21). "2006 Academic All-Big 12 football Team Announced". Press release. Retrieved 2008-11-26.  
  41. ^ Big 12 Conference (2007-11-20). "2007 Academic All-Big 12 football Team Announced". Press release. Retrieved 2008-11-26.  
  42. ^ "Texas Tech Red Raiders, NCAA Football, Virginia Cavaliers -".  
  43. ^ Big 12 Conference (2008-11-25). "2008 Academic All-Big 12 football Team Announced". Press release. Retrieved 2008-11-26.  
  44. ^ "Graham Harrell Wins Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award". Official Texas Tech Athletic Site. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2008-12-09.  
  45. ^ "Harrell 2008 Johny Unitas Golden Arm Award" (PDF).  
  46. ^ "Sooners' Bradford Wins Heisman Trophy".,0,304848.story.  
  47. ^ "Texas Tech QB Harrell named co-national player of the year". The Dallas Morning News. 2008-12-17. Retrieved 2008-12-18.  
  48. ^ "Harrell Selected AT&T All-America Player of the Year". Texas Tech Official Athletic Site. 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2009-01-09.  
  49. ^ Williams, Don (2009-04-26). "Chargers land Vasquez, Cowboys take Williams". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved 2009-04-27.  
  50. ^ Cabot, Mary Kay (2009-05-04). "Browns Insider: No deal for QB Harrell, but coaching staff was positive, says agent". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2009-05-13.  
  51. ^ "Rex Grossman, Graham Harrell to the UFL".  
  52. ^ "Riders sign Quarterback Graham Harrell". Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club. 2009-07-20. Retrieved 2009-07-20.  
  53. ^ "ACU adds transfer QB". Abilene Christian University. 2008-07-28. Retrieved 2009-02-25.  
  54. ^ "In dollars, coaches beat teachers". Austin American-Statesman. 2006-11-29. Retrieved 2009-02-25.  

External links


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