GREEN BAY – While it’s unclear whether or not Graham Harrell’s quarterbacking career is officially over, the ex-Green Bay Packers backup is at least prepping for life after the NFL.
According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Harrell has joined the Washington State coaching staff under head coach Mike Leach, his coach at Texas Tech when Harrell was breaking a plethora of NCAA passing records.
Because Washington State already has nine assistant coaches, the maximum allowed by the NCAA, Harrell will likely serve in an operations capacity, possibly as an “offensive quality control,” according to the Spokesman-Review. The school has yet to announce his hiring.
Harrell, 28, finished his college career as the NCAA’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (134) and completions (1,403) and second in passing yards (15,793) while playing for Leach.
It’s hard not to view Harrell’s move into coaching as evidence that other NFL teams don’t see him as a viable backup quarterback. After splitting time between the practice squad and the 53-man roster in 2010 and 2011 as the No. 3 quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn, Harrell ascended to the No. 2 job after Flynn’s free-agent departure in 2012, even though he’d never thrown an NFL regular-season pass. The lone time that season he was pressed into action, when Rodgers was poked in the eye against New Orleans, he fumbled a handoff to Cedric Benson at the goal line that cost the Packers a scoring opportunity.
Last year, the Packers opted to let Harrell and B.J. Coleman go through their offseason program as the two quarterbacks behind Rodgers, but Harrell was released on Aug. 24 after the Packers decided to give Vince Young every chance to make the roster.
As it turned out, the Packers wound up cutting not only Harrell but Young and Coleman, too, winding up with Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien behind Rodgers when he suffered his fractured left collarbone Nov. 4. The Packers re-signed Flynn on Nov. 12, after Wallace suffered a season-ending groin injury that required surgery, and Flynn wound up going 2-2-1 in the five games he played.
Harrell, meanwhile, briefly caught on with the New York Jets after the Packers cut him, when the Jets were beset by quarterback injuries. He was then cut when the team signed Brady Quinn and the other quarterbacks returned to health. Harrell spent the rest of the year out of football.
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