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Ennis Graham Harrell and Waxahachies Marlon Winn join forces for the Red Raiders

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The Ellis County Press

Ennis’ highly decorated former Quarterback Graham Harrell and former Waxahachie offensive lineman Marlon Winn were fierce competitors under the Friday Night Lights of high school football. When both men walked onto the practice turf at Texas Tech, any animosity was laid aside and in its place a strong bond began to grow. Now a senior and junior, respectively, under the guidance of Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach, Harrell and Winn have both contributed in putting the football program at Texas Tech where it is today.

At Ennis, Harrell earned a 41-3 record as a three-year starter. In his senior year alone, he passed for 4,825 yards and 67 touchdowns leading Ennis to an undefeated regular season. He earned the state record for the most passing touchdowns in a single season with 54 and also holds the state title of all-time leading passer with 167 touchdowns and 12,532 yards. He also garnered the Gatorade Texas Player of the Year as well the No. 7 spot on the list of pro-style quarterbacks in the nation (Rivals.com), the No. 15 overall prospect in Texas (Texas Insider Top 100), the No. 15 quarterback in the nation (SuperPrep.com), and the No. 30 spot for overall prospect in the nation (Big 12 Insider Top 100). Having been courted by several big schools including Georgia, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, Harrell signed with Texas Tech to begin an equally impressive college career.

After redshirting as a true freshmen, Harrell proved to all why he was a highly touted high school player by entering the game against FIU (Florida International University) on the second drive of the fourth quarter. He completed 7 of 8 passes for 64 yards and led Tech on two scoring drives. Harrell would continue to prove his worth against other hefty opponents such as Texas A&M and Kansas State.

Building on a solid freshman season foundation, Graham’s 2006 season was the best sophomore season in Texas Tech history with 4,555 passing yards and 38 touchdowns, the third best in the history of the NCAA. He had nine 300 yard passing games and led the nation in completions and was second in passing yards. Harrell led the Big 12 Conference in passing, passing touchdowns, and total offense. He was named the Insight Bowl Offensive MVP after leading the Raiders to a come from behind win over Minnesota.

A little bit of history repeated itself for Harrell as he was named the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl MVP last year. He earned his bowl honors after another strategic comeback over Virginia helping score 17 points in the last four minutes of the game for a final score of 31-28. Against No. 3 Oklahoma, he completed 47 of a Tech record 72 attempts gaining 420 yards and two touchdowns. For a second year in a row, he led his fellow Raiders against the Longhorns’ defense scoring five touchdowns on 36 of 48 attempts in Austin. After throwing a career high 646 yards in the conference opener last year against Oklahoma State, Harrell was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for the second time in his career.

It takes more than one person to make a team successful. Graham Harrell has always been supported by football’s "unsung heroes," the offensive and defensive linemen.

One such individual is Texas Tech Offensive Lineman Marlon Winn. A product of Waxahachie High School, Winn has continued to build on his own impressive high school career. Rated in the top 10 in the state as a lineman in high school and described as a "solid pass protector" and "large lineman with tremendous athleticism," Marlon Winn is now in his third season with the Red Raiders. He spent his freshmen season as a primary backup appearing in nine games. Winn stepped in and took over for a injured starter in the last eight games of the 2007 season. He helped lead the Tech offense to a fifth NCAA Passing Title. He was part of an offensive line that allowed only 18 sacks in 763 pass attempts.

In a twist of fate, Winn has provided incredible protection for his now quarterback, Graham Harrell, who was once part of a rival team during high school. The offense at Tech currently holds the second-highest total in school history with an average of 40.9 points per game. The line also holds the second-highest school history record for yards of total offense per game with 529.6 yards.

When asked if Harrell’s celebrated high school career caused any issues in college, Winn acknowledged that he was afraid it might, but found out quickly that Graham Harrell was not that sort of person. Marlon thanks his high school head coach, David Ream, for the guidance throughout high school that helped make him the football player he is today. He also is very appreciative of the continued support from his parents, LaTonya and David Brown, and older brother JaMarcus.

Both Harrell and Winn have been instrumental in the Red Raiders success so far this season. After a 43-25 blow-out of Texas A&M at Kyle Field, the Red Raiders are now 7-0, still undefeated on the season. With a 4-0 record at home so far, the 2008 team is looking to tie the team of 2005 with a perfect 7-0 record at home.

Harrell and teammate Michael Crabtree, are both hopefuls for the 2008 Heisman Trophy. When asked about what he thinks of the Heisman possibility, Harrell stated that he would be honored to receive such a highly esteemed award, but right now he is focused on each individual game.

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