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OU football: Predecessors see nothing but greatness in Tech's Graham Harrell

By Jake Trotter Modified: November 28, 2008 at 10:31 am •  Published: November 20, 2008
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photo - ** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, NOV. 15-16 -- FILE -- ** In this Nov. 8, 2008 file photo, Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell laughs on the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File) ORG XMIT: NY183
** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, NOV. 15-16 -- FILE -- ** In this Nov. 8, 2008 file photo, Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell laughs on the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File) ORG XMIT: NY183
After four years backing up Kliff Kingsbury, B.J. Symons and Sonny Cumbie, Cody Hodges’ chance to engineer the Texas Tech scoring juggernaut finally came in 2005.

But first, Hodges had to hold off freshman Graham Harrell.

"It wasn’t easy beating him out, even though I was a fifth-year senior and he was a freshman,” Hodges said. "The great thing about Graham when he came to Tech was that he was talented and mentally sharp.

"But the component that puts him over the top is confidence.”

Four years later, Harrell, the fifth Tech quarterback to start under coach Mike Leach, has the Red Raiders undefeated and ranked second in the nation.

He has thrown for 4,077 yards and 36 touchdowns to just five interceptions and could all but lock up the Heisman Trophy and Big 12 South title with a win over Oklahoma this weekend.

Kingsbury put Tech on the map. Symons broke records. Cumbie was a Holiday Bowl MVP. And Hodges beat Oklahoma.

But Harrell is the culmination of those past achievements.

"Overall, he’s the best quarterback Leach has had,” said Hodges, who at one time was teammates with all four of the other Tech quarterbacks. "That’s nothing against the other guys, or myself.

"But he’s winning, and that’s how you measure a quarterback.”

Of the five, Harrell doesn’t possess the strongest arm or quickest feet.


Texas Tech at Oklahoma
→When: 7 p.m. Saturday

→Where: Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman

→TV: ABC (Cox 8)

→Radio: KOKC-AM 1520; KRXO-FM 107.7

Quoteboard
Here’s what the four Red Raider quarterbacks who started under Mike Leach had to say about Graham Harrell:

Kliff Kingsbury

"They have the best quarterback in the country handling the offense. Everything has come together.”

B.J. Symons

"The biggest difference is that he’s had three years. He doesn’t try to do too much. He’s staying within the offense and making plays.”

Sonny Cumbie

"He makes his teammates better. That’s the highest compliment.”

Cody Hodges

"If you lined us up in a foot race, Graham would come in third. B.J. would out throw everyone by 20 yards. But Graham doesn’t make mistakes and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has something to prove. It’s not a cocky mentality. But it’s an ‘I want the ball, we’re going to go down to score.’ ”

BY JAKE TROTTER

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