Passing grades

Quarterbacks Daniel, Harrell lead their teams to fast starts
Thursday, October 5, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:15 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

LUBBOCK, Texas — Their nearly flawless Texas high school careers behind them, Graham Harrell and Chase Daniel are just beginning to make their marks at Big 12 schools.

Harrell, Texas Tech’s quarterback, and Daniel, who leads No. 23 Missouri, went a combined 72-4 at Ennis and Southlake Carroll, a pair of Dallas-area schools. But the sophomores never played one another, making Saturday’s matchup the first one-stop glimpse at two of the state’s most prolific high school passers.

They’re bringing a little momentum into an important conference game. Harrell threw a last-minute touchdown pass to give Texas Tech (4-1, 1-0 Big 12) a 31-27 victory at Texas A&M last week, and Daniel has Missouri (5-0, 1-0) vying for its first 6-0 start in 33 years.

Both are in the top 10 in total offense nationally. Harrell is fourth, averaging 310 yards per game. Daniel isn’t far behind at No. 10, averaging 281 yards per game.

One of their high school coaches believes both quarterbacks are gaining valuable experience early in their college careers.

“To me, there’s not a whole lot replacing getting to play,” said Graham Harrell’s father and high school coach, Sam Harrell. “That’s the best teacher of all.”

Harrell, who was a year ahead of Daniel, was a two-time 4A player of the year at Ennis, where he was 41-3 as a three-year starter. Daniel, who turns 20 years old Saturday, was twice named the 5A player of the year and had a two-year record of 31-1. Each won a state title.

“I think successful people are going to be successful no matter what level it is,” Graham Harrell said. “Being successful in high school helped prepare us, and we want to win. I think that’s why they’re 5-0 and we’re 4-1.”

Daniel is using his arm and his legs for Missouri. He has 1,273 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions and another 130 rushing yards. That mobility is why Daniel fits where he landed, Sam Harrell said.

“That’s their philosophy,” he said. “They’re looking for quarterbacks who are a dual threat, and they found them a good one in him. He’s really making them roll right now.”

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel knows his quarterback isn’t only one coming into this game playing well.

“(Graham) Harrell, at quarterback, is playing outstanding,” he said. “They score a lot points ... and have one of the best passing games in the country.”

But as much as he admires Harrell, Pinkel makes no secret of his respect for Daniel.

“You can coach poise and some guys develop it, but (Daniel’s) just got it,” Pinkel said. “He knows what he’s doing, and he’s a smart intelligent guy.”

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