Playing with 2 broken fingers on his left hand, Harrell leads Tech to victory over Baylor.
|Title||Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks Coach|
|Team||University of North Texas|
May 22, 1985 |
Brownwood, Texas, U.S.
|Alma mater||Texas Tech|
|2004–2008||Texas Tech University|
|2009||New York Jets|
|2010-2012||Green Bay Packers|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|2009||Oklahoma State (Quality Control)|
|2014-2015||Washington State (OWR)|
|2015-present||North Texas (OC/QBs)|
Graham Stanton Harrell (born May 22, 1985) is an American Football assistant coach and former American football and Canadian football quarterback. He is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the North Texas Mean Green. He had been an assistant for the Washington State Cougars for the previous two seasons and had also worked for Oklahoma State in a quality control position . He played college football at Texas Tech University, where he was an All-American quarterback, Heisman Trophy finalist in 2008, and set school, conference and national records for passing yards, attempts, completions, and touchdown passes. Harrell was named by ESPN as one of the top 25 college football players of the last decade. Harrell was signed into the National Football League in 2010 by the Green Bay Packers.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Coaching career
- 3 College career
- 4 Professional career
- 5 Personal
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Harrell was born to Sam and Kathy Harrell in Brownwood, Texas, where his father was an assistant under legendary Texas high school football coach Gordon Wood. His father was hired as Head Coach at Ennis High School in Ennis, Texas. Harrell played at EHS under his father's coaching. He was the starting quarterback for three seasons and led the Ennis Lions to a state Class 4A title as a sophomore in 2001. He also played in the 2004 Oil Bowl, receiving the offensive MVP award. Harrell set Texas high school records in the following categories:
- Single-season passing yards (4,825 in 2003 over 13 games; the next two quarterbacks on the list set their records over 16-game seasons). This record stood until 2007 when it was broken by Lake Travis quarterback Garrett Gilbert.
- Career passing yards (12,532 from 2000–2003; Broken by Gilbert in 2008).
- 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).
In addition, Harrell ranks second in career pass completions (805 from 2000–2003).
Harrell first started coaching by accepting a quality control position at Oklahoma State when Mike Gundy hired former Tech offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen to run the Cowboy offense. Harrell helped tutor the OSU quarterbacks with the new Air Raid system that Gundy had hired Holgerson to run. Harrell left OSU to play football in Canada. After not playing in the NFL during the 2013 season, Harrell joined the coaching staff at Washington State in April 2014, re-uniting him with his college coach Mike Leach. Harrell was given the position of offensive analyst. In February 2015, Harrell was named the football program's outside receivers coach, replacing Dennis Simmons. In December 2015, former Texas Tech running backs coach Seth Littrell was named head football coach at the University of North Texas. Harrell became one of Littrell's first hires, as he was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at UNT. Despite being named OC at North Texas, Harrell said he would honor his contract with Leach and WSU and coach the Cougars in the Sun Bowl.
Freshman and redshirt freshman seasons
In 2004, Harrell redshirted his first season at Texas Tech. The following season, he served as the backup quarterback behind another Texas Tech record setter, Cody Hodges, who led college football in passing yards in 2005.
Harrell started in every game of the 2006 season, beating out classmate Chris Todd. Harrell got the Raiders off to a quick start with wins over Southern Methodist University, The University of Texas at El Paso, Southeastern Louisiana University and conference rival the Texas A&M Aggies. The lone Red Raider loss was to Texas Christian University, 12-3 in the third game of the season. Despite the 4-1 start, Harrell was benched halfway through the next game due to poor play after the Raiders fell behind the Missouri Tigers 24-0, and Todd was inserted for two series. Harrell came back into the game and got the Raiders within 3 points before the half but struggled in the second half as Tech lost 38-21. The next week against a winless Colorado team that Tech was heavily favored to beat, Harrell once again was benched in favor of Todd for a 4 interception game resulting in a 30-6 loss. However, Harrell rebounded to throw for 6 touchdowns against the Iowa State Cyclones and then threw for 519 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Texas Longhorns in a narrow 35-31 loss. The Raiders finished the season with a 55-21 win against the Baylor Bears, a 34-24 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners, and a 30-24 win against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Texas Tech finished the regular season 7-5 (4-4 in the Big 12) and received an invitation to the 2006 Insight Bowl. The 7-5 Red Raiders faced off against the 6-6 Minnesota Golden Gophers at the 2006 Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona. Texas Tech struggled on both offense and defense during first 3 quarters of the Insight Bowl. The Minnesota Golden Gophers outscored Tech 38 to 7 through the end of the 3rd quarter. The Red Raiders, sparked by a 43-yard TD from Harrell to Joel Filani, went on to outscore the Gophers 31-0 through the end of regulation sending the game into overtime. On the final drive, Harrell drove the Red Raider offense almost 70 yards in less than a minute to set up the game tying field goal by Alex Trlica. Following a Minnesota field goal, Tech scored a touchdown to win the game 44-41 capping a 31-point deficit; the largest come-from-behind victory in NCAA FBS bowl history. Harrell threw for 445 yards 2 TDs and 1 rushing TD and was named the Offensive MVP. Tech finished the year 8-5, their 13th straight winning season, and their fifth straight season with at least 8 wins 4th bowl win out of the previous 5 seasons. He threw for 38 touchdowns and 4,555 passing yards, the third-most by a sophomore in NCAA Division I FBS history and the most ever thrown by a sophomore in the history of the Big 12
Harrell passed on entering the 2007 NFL draft. He continued the success of the previous season, mainly due to the addition of All-American Wideout Michael Crabtree and the emergence of inside receivers Danny Amendola and Eric Morris. The Raiders started the season off with wins over the SMU Mustangs 49-9, the UTEP Miners 45-31, and the Rice Owls 59-24. Harrell then had a career day against the Oklahoma State Cowboys throwing for 5 touchdowns and 646 yards, however due to the poor play of the Tech defense, the Raiders lost to the Cowboys 49-45. Harrell was still given recognition as the AT&T player of the week for his performance despite the loss. The Raiders then reeled off lopsided wins over Northwestern State, Iowa State, and Texas A&M pushing their record to 6-1 and into the national rankings. Harrell being mentioned as a dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. The Raiders then dropped two games to Missouri and Colorado which knocked Tech out of the national conversation, but rebounded to beat Baylor 38-7. Harrell led the Red Raiders into Austin, Texas to face off against Colt McCoy and the Texas Longhorns, in a back and forth affair that Texas won 59-43 by simply outscoring Tech. The Raiders upset the # 4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners in Lubbock to finish the regular season 8-4 overall and 4-4 and third place in the Big 12 South. Tech was invited to the Gator Bowl where they knocked off a ranked Virginia Cavalier team 31-28 to finish 9-4 overall and ranked # 22 in the country. Harrell was named the game's Most Valuable player. He was then awarded the Sammy Baugh Trophy awarded to the best passer in College Football. He finished the season with a 71.8% completion percentage, throwing for 5,705 yards and 48 touchdowns.
Entering his senior season, Harrell had 89 career passing touchdowns, putting him within range of Colt Brennan's NCAA record of 131 touchdowns. 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. Harrell was also named one of 26 candidates for the 2008 Unitas Award, given to the nation's best senior college football quarterback. Additionally, his name appeared among 30 other quarterbacks in the Davey O'Brien Award watch list. 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.
To support the Heisman campaign of both Harrell and Crabtree, Texas Tech created a website called PassOrCatch2008.com, 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. 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. Harrell also leaped McCoy to make it to the top of the Heisman poll. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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. After Tech's 65–21 loss to Oklahoma, Harrell's chances of winning the Heisman were reduced. Harrell finished fourth in the Heisman race but did not receive an invitation to attend the presentation ceremony. Michael Crabtree finished fifth.
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 was 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.
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.
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. 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.
Harrell holds 8 Individual NCAA records. See also NCAA records held by individual Red Raiders
|Most passes completed per season||512 (2007)|
|Most passes completed, season per game||39.4 (2007)|
|Most passes completed, career per game||31.2|
|Most games gaining 400 Yards or more passing per season ||11 (2007) (13 Games)|
|Most games gaining 400 yards or more passing per career||20 (Tied)|
|Most yards gained against one opponent, career per game||486.3 (Minimum 3 Games, vs Texas)|
|Most seasons gaining 4,000 yards or more total offense||3 (Tied)|
|Most games gaining 400 yards or more, career total offense||21 (Tied)|
The NCAA Records book also mentions Graham Harrell for the following items:
- Single-game yards passing: 646 (Rank 6th) (Vs Oklahoma St. Sept. 22, 2007)
- Single-game yards, total offense: 643 (Rank 7th) (Vs Oklahoma St. Sept. 22, 2007)
- Single-game attempts: 72 (Rank 23rd) (vs Oklahoma Nov. 17, 2007)
- single-game completions: 48 (18th) (vs UTEP Sept. 8, 2007)
- Single-game completions: 47 (Rank 20th) (vs Oklahoma Nov. 17, 2007)
- Season yards passing: 5,705 (Rank 2nd) 2007
- Season yards passing: 5,111 (Rank 8th) 2008
- Season yards total offense: 5,614 (Rank 5th) 2007
- Season yards total offense: 5.096 (Rank 13th) 2008
- Season yards per game passing: 438.8 (Rank 3rd) 2007
- Season yards per game passing: 393.2 (Rank 14th) 2008
- Season yards per game total offense: 431.8 (Rank 3rd) 2007
- Season yards per game total offense: 392 (Rank 18th) 2007
- Season touchdown passes: 48 (Rank 7th) 2007
- Season touchdown passes: 45 (Rank 14th) 2008
- Career yards passing: 15,793 (Rank 4th)
- Career yards total offense: 15,599 (Rank 5th)
- Career yards passing per game: 351 (Rank 3rd)
- Career yards per game total offense: 346.6 (Rank 5th)
- Career touchdown passes: 134 (Rank 3rd)
- Annual total offense champion: 2007
NCAA records reference (Last referenced for 2015 season) 
Awards and honors
Harrell has received multiple honors, including the 2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
|2006||2006 Insight Bowl MVP||Selected|||
|2006||All-Big 12||Selected for honorable-mention|
|2006||Academic All-Big 12||Selected for first team|||
|2007||AT&T ESPN All-America Player of the Week||Selected twice|
|2007||All-Big-12||Selected for second team|
|2007||Sammy Baugh Trophy||Winner|
|2007||Academic All-Big 12||Selected for first team|||
|2008||2008 Gator Bowl MVP||Selected|||
|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|
|2008||AFCA Coaches' All-American||Selected|||
|2008||National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete||Selected|||
|2008||Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award||Winner|||
|2008||Heisman Trophy||Candidate||Finished fourth|
|2008||All-Big 12||Selected for honorable-mention|
|2008||The Sporting News 2008 National Player of the Year||Selected||Co-national player of the year with Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy|
|2008||AT&T All-America Player of the Year||Winner||Voted on by fans|
Following his senior season at Texas Tech, Harrell entered the 2009 NFL Draft but went undrafted to the surprise of many. He participated with the Cleveland Browns in their rookie camp the first weekend in May 2009 but was not signed despite coach Eric Mangini giving Harrell praise. UFL Access reported that Harrell would work out in front of United Football League representatives in Las Vegas.
On July 20, 2009, Harrell signed a two-year plus an option contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, joining former Texas Tech teammate Eric Morris who had signed months earlier. After a brief stay in the CFL, Harrell requested to be released from his CFL contract to pursue his NFL options, and was released by the Roughriders on April 22, 2010.
Green Bay Packers
Harrell signed with the Green Bay Packers on May 19, 2010. He was released on September 4, but was re-signed to the practice squad the next day. On December 18, Harrell was signed to the active roster due to an injury to Aaron Rodgers. On September 3, 2011, the Packers released Harrell, but they re-signed him on September 4, 2011, to the practice squad. On December 7, 2011, the Packers again signed Harrell to the active roster. After the departure of primary back-up Matt Flynn, Harrell was promoted to the active roster full-time and was named Rodger's primary back-up. On September 30, 2012, Graham played in his first game for Green Bay. Coming in for one snap in the red zone, Harrell took the snap to hand off to Cedric Benson, but was tripped by his center, resulting in a fumbled hand off and a lost fumble. Harrell hosted a weekly sports talk show called the "Witt Ford Red Zone with Graham Harrell" every Monday during the 2012 season on 104.1 FM WRLU and archived at DoorCountyDailyNews.com.
Harrell struggled in the pre-season and on August 24, 2013, USA Today reported that Green Bay would be releasing Harrell, as former Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young outplayed Harrell according to the Packers coaching staff in the pre-season.
New York Jets
Harrell was signed by the New York Jets on August 28, 2013. He was brought in after reserve quarterback Greg McElroy re-injured his knee. Harrell played for one series at the end of the game in relief of Matt Simms. He was released on September 2, 2013 after the Jets signed Brady Quinn.
Harrell is the son of Sam and Kathy Harrell. His grandfather served as assistant coach to Gordon Wood. Harrell has an older brother, Zac, who was a receiver on Ennis High's 2000 State Championship team, and is a graduate of the University of North Texas and coaches football on the high school level as he serves as Offensive Coordinator at Sweetwater High School in Sweetwater, Texas. Graham also has 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 and graduated from ACU in 2011. Clark is now a defensive secondary coach at Sweetwater High School in Sweetwater, Texas
Sam Harrell, Graham's father, was the highest paid high school coach in Texas as of the 2005-06 academic year. He coached at Reagan County (1990–1993) and Ennis (1994-2009) before retiring from coaching duties in December 2010 due to health problems. Sam returned to the sidelines after over 2 years of aggressive treatment for Multiple Sclerosis  and coaches in Brownwood under Bob Shipley, father of Jacksonville Jaguars and former Texas wideout Jordan Shipley.
Harrell has been married to the former Brittney Tomlinson of Tyler, Texas since March 2012.
- 2006 Texas Tech Red Raiders football team
- 2007 Texas Tech Red Raiders football team
- 2008 Texas Tech Red Raiders football team
- List of NCAA Division I FBS quarterbacks with at least 10,000 career passing yards
- List of NCAA Division I FBS quarterbacks with at least 80 career passing touchdowns
- List of NCAA major college football yearly passing leaders
- List of NCAA major college football yearly total offense leaders
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