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August 19, 2006Throughout Texas Tech's fall football camp, locked in a competitive battle for the starting quarterback position, sophomore Graham Harrell and redshirt freshman Chris Todd both received virtually the same amount of reps, although the elder Harrell would always go before Todd.
It appears as if this order will continue into the foreseeable future as both contenders were told by head coach Mike Leach earlier today that Harrell would be the Red Raiders' starting quarterback this season.
"If we were to play today, we would start Graham," confirmed Leach. "The thing is that this is subject to change as we go along. The other thing is that they're both playing real well so, to an extent, we'll probably keep the reps the same unless there's a fall-off or drop-off as far as Graham's ability to pick things up and learn the offense, then we'll have to increase his [reps]."
Leach, entering his seventh-season as head coach, has previously indicated that this was one of the toughest quarterback competitions that he has seen.
"It is [the toughest]," said offensive graduate assistant Lincoln Riley. "I think Graham made a late run on Cody [Hodges] last year and made that one pretty tough, but Cody had been so much better in the spring and then better early in camp.
"These guys have been neck and neck the whole time. The good thing is that you can't go wrong with either one. They can do things that, quite honestly, some of the guys we've had [previously] couldn't do physically."
In the end, Harrell's extra year of experience in Leach's system proved to be the deciding factor.
"Right now, perhaps it's the year of experience, but just as far as checking and sorting through it, Graham is a little quicker on the money on that."
With Leach's decision out in the open, Harrell is ready to focus on the season.
"Today, [Leach] kind of made the decision so that's encouraging for me especially," he said. "You just have to continue to improve, nothing changes, just continue to work and continue to improve."
Last year, as a redshirt freshman, Harrell backed up senior Cody Hodges and saw action in six games, throwing for 422 yards and three touchdowns while completing 67.3-percent (37 of 55) of his passes. As a three-year starter in high school, the Ennis, Texas product compiled a 41-3 record and became the state's all-time leading passer with 12,532 yards and 167 touchdowns.
A Texas Tech quarterback has led the nation in passing offense for the past four years; Harrell will begin his attempt to continue the trend on September 2 when the Red Raiders open the season at home against SMU.