James Harrell (American football)

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James Harrell
No. 51, 58, 50
Personal information
Born: (1957-07-19) July 19, 1957 (age 66)
Tampa, Florida
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:224 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High school:Tampa (FL) Chamberlain
Career history
As a player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As a coach:
Career NFL statistics
Games played:89
Games started:32
Quarterback sacks:1.5
Fumbles recovered:4
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

James Clarence Harrell, Jr. (born July 19, 1957) is an American former college and professional football player who was a linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) and the United States Football League (USFL) for nine seasons during the 1970s and 1980s. He played college football for the University of Florida, and thereafter, he played professionally for the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL and the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL.

Early years[edit]

Harrell was born in Tampa, Florida in 1957.[1] He attended Chamberlain High School in Tampa,[2] and he played high school football for the Chamberlain Chiefs.[3]

College career[edit]

Harrell turned down athletic scholarships from smaller colleges; he wanted to play for a major college football program.[3] He attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played for coach Doug Dickey's Florida Gators football team from 1975 to 1978.[4] He was a walk-on who wanted to play linebacker, but Dickey discouraged it and said that the Gators needed more depth at strong safety, so Harrell set out to learn a position he had never played.[3] He played for the Gators freshman team, and earned a scholarship at the end of his first season.[3] When he returned for his second season he had beefed up from 185 pounds to 220, and Dickey asked him to move to defensive end.[3] Still, he was not a starter, but he became a serious student and threw himself into his special teams play.[3] As a senior in 1978, he finally became a principal back-up and saw significant game time.[3]

Harrell returned to Gainesville during the NFL off-season and completed his bachelor's degree in public relations in 1984.

Professional career[edit]

The Denver Broncos signed Harrell as an undrafted free agent in May 1979, but waived him before the start of the 1979 season.[3] The Detroit Lions claimed him off waivers,[3] and he played eight seasons for the Lions from 1979 to 1983 and from 1985 to 1986, and one season for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1987.[5] He also played for the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits from 1984 to 1985.[6] During his two USFL seasons with the Bandits, he compiled three interceptions and 5.5 quarterback sacks.

During his eight NFL seasons, Harrell appeared in eighty-nine games and started thirty-two of them.[1]

Life after the NFL[edit]

In 2005, Harrell became the co-defensive coordinator for the Plant Panthers of Plant High School in Tampa,[7] and in the next four years the Panthers won two Florida Class 4A state championships.[8] In February 2009, Harrell became the head coach of the Freedom Patriots of Freedom High School in Tampa,[8] and, in 2010, he accepted an offer to be the head coach of the Tampa Jesuit Tigers of Jesuit High School, a private Catholic preparatory school in Tampa.[9] Harrell was previously an assistant coach at Jesuit for eleven seasons from 1994 to 2004.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pro-Football-Reference.com, Players, James Harrell. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  2. ^ databaseFootball.com, Players, James Harrell Archived June 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i James Walston, "A sweet homecoming: Lions' James Harrell refused to give up on himself," The Evening Independent, p. 1-C (October 1, 1981). Retrieved August 7, 2010.
  4. ^ 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide Archived April 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 85 & 182 (2011). Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  5. ^ National Football League, Historical Players, James Harrell. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  6. ^ "Bandits Sign Ex-Lion Harrell to Multi-Year Contract," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, p. 14B (March 24, 1984). Retrieved August 7, 2010.
  7. ^ Scott Purks, "Odd couple equals one stellar defense," St Petersburg Times (December 6, 2006). Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Izzy Gould, "James Harrell to coach at Freedom," St. Peterburg Times (February 4, 2009). Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  9. ^ a b Nick Williams, "Jesuit hires Harrell as head football coach," The Tampa Tribune (February 12, 2010). Retrieved August 5, 2010.


  • Carlson, Norm, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia (2007). ISBN 0-7948-2298-3.
  • Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 0-9650782-1-3.
  • Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 1-58261-514-4.
  • McCarthy, Kevin M., Fightin' Gators: A History of University of Florida Football, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (2000). ISBN 978-0-7385-0559-6.
  • Nash, Noel, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois (1998). ISBN 1-57167-196-X.