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Harrell shares skills, NFL experience with local players

Former Tech and current Green Bay QB emphasizes footwork with campers

Posted: July 13, 2012 - 6:50pm  |  Updated: July 14, 2012 - 12:41am
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Peter Griffith, 16, throws the football under the watchful eye of former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell. Now a backup QB with the Green Bay Packers, Harrell conducted the the Graham Harrell Passing Camp on Friday at Frenship High School.  Stephen Spillman
Stephen Spillman
Peter Griffith, 16, throws the football under the watchful eye of former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell. Now a backup QB with the Green Bay Packers, Harrell conducted the the Graham Harrell Passing Camp on Friday at Frenship High School.
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WOLFFORTH — Graham Harrell didn’t have to attend passing camps as a kid to receive high-level football instruction.

“To be honest, I didn’t really go to many (camps),” said Harrell, the former Texas Tech and current Green Bay Packers quarterback. “My dad was my high school coach, so he put me through drills if I wanted to do drills.”

Harrell’s father, Sam Harrell, is a decorated high school football coach who led Class 4A Ennis to three state championships. But Graham Harrell and his brothers, Zac and Clark, know most aspiring players aren’t lucky enough to have a football guru under their own roof, so the siblings came up with the idea of running their own passing camp.

“It’s a family of coaches,” Graham Harrell said, “so to have the opportunity to try to help kids improve is definitely something we’ve always wanted to do.”

The family affair was in full force at Peoples Bank Stadium on Friday, as about 80 middle and high school students turned out for the Graham Harrell Passing School. Harrell’s first installment of the camp was held in Dallas last week, but he said the opportunity to conduct one in Lubbock, where he was decorated quarterback for the Red Raiders from 2005 to 2008 and made “lots of memories,” was one he didn’t want to pass up.

A handful of instructors with close ties to the Harrells, including former Tech quarterback Taylor Potts, put campers to work with fast-paced drills that emphasized solid footwork and quick release.

“To me, one of the most important things, and one of the things kids struggle with the most, is that they are inconsistent with their feet,” Harrell said. “We try to do a great job of making them better with their feet, because if you’re consistent with your feet, you have a chance the rest of the way. If your feet are bad, you really don’t have a chance for the rest of the play.”

Harrell mixed in a series of fun competitions for players in between drills. At one station, campers were timed as they caught a pass at two different points along a crossing route, then went deep on a corner route toward the end zone to catch a deep pass from Harrell or Potts.

If the player caught the long pass and crossed the goal line, he was urged to celebrate with his best end zone dance, a number of which had camp instructors bent over in laughter.

“I think we might enjoy it more than the kids do,” said Clark Harrell, who quarterbacked at Tulsa and Abilene Christian.

The camp will conclude with another day of instruction on Saturday, and then Graham Harrell will turn his attention to fall training camp, which begins in less than two weeks. Former Packers backup Matt Flynn signed a contract in the offseason with the Seattle Seahawks, so Harrell enters the fall as the frontrunner for the No. 2 signal-caller position behind Aaron Rodgers.

“I feel like I have learned and developed quite a bit since I’ve been in Green Bay,” Harrell said. “Hopefully I can just continue to learn and continue to improve until I get my stride at some point and be ready if my number is called.”

After a stint in the Canadian Football League, Harrell joined the Packers in 2010. He spent most of his first two seasons on the practice squad, but when Flynn went to Seattle, the Packers didn’t do much to solidify the backup position outside of drafting Tennessee-Chatanooga’s B.J Coleman in the seventh round of April’s draft.

That leaves the door open for Harrell, and is family is anxious to see what he does with the chance.

“He’s in the perfect spot, right behind Aaron (Rodgers),” Clark Harrell said, “a place where he can learn but maybe get reps and be there in case something happens. There’s really not a better place to be in the NFL as a young quarterback.”

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