Nation’s leading passer Graham Harrell earns Baugh trophy

From STAFF REPORTS

LUBBOCK - For the third time since 2000, a Red Raider quarterback has claimed the Touchdown Club of Columbus trophy recognizing the nation’s top collegiate passer.

Texas Tech junior quarterback Graham Harrell of Ennis was announced Monday as the recipient of the Sammy Baugh Trophy, joining former Red Raiders Kliff Kingsbury and B.J. Symons, who won the award in 2002 and 2003, respectively.

A 2005 graduate of Ennis High School, Graham led the Ennis Lions to their 2002 State 4A Championship title. The son of Kathy and Sam Harrell, head coach for the Ennis Lions’ football program, Graham now holds the Texas Tech career record with 13 400-yard passing games (three straight) and has a national-leading 5,298 passing yards this season.

Graham is only the sixth player in NCAA history and third Red Raider to pass the 5,000-yard mark in a season and joins NCAA single-season record holder and former Tech quarterback B.J. Symons (5,833 in 2003) and Kliff Kingsbury (5,017 in 2002) on the list. He needs 252 yards in the bowl game to pass Hawaii’s Colt Brennan, who sits in second after passing for 5,549 yards last season.

Additionally, Graham has thrown 46 touchdown passes in 2007, which is tied in sixth place on the NCAA season list. He has 10,275 career passing yards and 86 touchdowns and is the 43rd player in NCAA history to eclipse the 10,000-yard mark. Graham’s career touchdown total is tied 18th all-time with former Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey.

Monday evening, Graham’s parents expressed their pride in their son and his recognition as this year’s top collegiate passer.

“It’s a great honor. It’s always nice to be recognized for any accomplishment, so I’m really proud of him,” said Kathy, with Sam describing the award as “pretty special.”

“I grew up knowing who Sammy Baugh was and I know this is a prestigious national quarterback award,” the head coach said, noting Baugh’s professional football nickname was “Slingin’ Sammy.”

Baugh, a two-time all-American for Texas Christian University, played pro ball with the Washington Redskins in the 1930s and 1940s, and is credited with making the pass the offensive weapon it remains today. Baugh led the Redskins to five division titles and two world championships and was a six-time individual passing champion, with a 70.33 pass completion percentage. His career statistics include 21,866 yards and 186 touchdowns.

Considered one of the greatest collegiate and professional quarterbacks in history, Baugh’s namesake trophy includes past winners Bob Griese (1966), John Elway (1982), Steve Young (1983), Duante Culpepper (1998) and David Carr (2001).

Sam said his son was typically low-key but happy when he called earlier in the day with the news.

“I’m awfully proud of him,” Sam said. “I’m probably about as speechless about (the award) as anything. I’m excited for him and proud of him. When you hear he’s been awarded like this, it catches you.”

Graham’s decision to attend Texas Tech has worked out well, with Sam saying his son chose the university because of the opportunity it presented.

“He wanted to go some place where he’d get the chance to throw the football,” Sam said. “It’s been a really good fit for him. He really likes Tech and he really likes Lubbock. He likes the school and he likes the town.”

Last season for the Red Raiders, Graham posted the best sophomore season in school history with 4,555 passing yards and 38 touchdowns, the third-best in NCAA history. He had nine 300-yard passing games, led the nation in completions with 412 and ranked second in passing yards. He led the Big 12 conference in passing, passing touchdowns and total offense and was named the Insight Bowl’s offensive most valuable player after throwing for 445 yards on 36-of-55 passing, according to his player biography on the Texas Tech sports Web site.

As an Ennis Lion, Graham was 41-3 as a three-year starting quarterback. During his high school career, he received numerous honors, including being named 4A offensive player of the year twice by the Associated Press in addition to being recognized twice with all-state selection, three-times as all-district and twice as District 16-4A’s most valuable player, his biography reads. His senior year as quarterback, Graham passed for 4,825 yards and 67 touchdowns. He holds the Texas high school record for single-season passing touchdowns (54) and is the state’s all-time leading passer with 12,532 yards and 167 touchdowns.

The entire Harrell family is involved with football, with Sam continuing to lead the Ennis Lions’ football program, while eldest son, Zak, is a second-year receivers coach with Denton Ryan.

The Harrells’ youngest son, Clark, is a redshirt freshman quarterback at the University of Tulsa.

The Sammy Baugh Trophy will be presented during the Touchdown Club of Columbus’ 53rd annual Sports Banquet on Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio.

For additional information, visit www.touchdownclubofcolumbus.com or http://texastech.cstv.com.

Daily Light Managing Editor JoAnn Livingston contributed to this report.