Plenty of former Green Bay Packers backup quarterbacks have gone on to have successful careers over the years, but one recent backup has quickly moved up the coaching ranks in college football.
Graham Harrell served as the backup quarterback to Aaron Rodgers for three seasons before pursuing a career in coaching. It hasn’t taken the 37-year-old long to become a highly sought after coach, serving as West Virginia’s offensive coordinator and QB coach this season.
Now, Harrell has reportedly landed his next coaching opportunity. Adam Rittenberg with ESPN reported that the former Packers backup was set to become the next offensive coordinator for the Purdue Boilermakers.
The move came shortly after Purdue hired former Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters to replace Jeff Brohm, who left for Louisville, as the program’s new head coach. With a defensive-minded head coach in Walters and an emerging offensive coordinator in Harrell, the Boilermakers will be hoping to keep building their program into a Big Ten title contender.
Graham Harrell’s Path to Purdue
While it can take some coaches decades to find their way into a coordinator role for a Power Five college program, Harrell’s experience and talent has helped him become one of the more interesting offensive minds in college football.
Before going pro, Harrell was one of the most exciting quarterbacks in college football at Texas Tech. He finished his career with 15,793 yards and 134 touchdowns, holding NCAA records for most 400-yard passing games in both a career and season, most completed passes in a season, and several other college records.
Despite all of his college success, Harrell went undrafted in 2009, playing a year in the CFL before landing with the Packers. He served as a backup to Aaron Rodgers from 2010 through 2012 before being released.
After a short stint with the New York Jets in training camp, Harrell’s playing career came to an end, but his coaching career began. He joined Mike Leach’s coaching staff at Washington State as a wide receivers coach in 2014 before bouncing around the country with gigs at North Texas, USC, and West Virginia.
Now, the 37-year-old coach will have an opportunity to prove himself on a bigger stage in the Big Ten, trying to help turn Purdue into a powerhouse alongside Walters.
Will Aaron Rodgers Return in 2023?
Rodgers has had a ton of backup quarterbacks behind him, mostly because he’s currently playing in his 18th NFL season. However, with the back-to-back MVP set to be 40 years old in December of next season, there’s a chance that Rodgers could retire this offseason.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback has shown his first signs of regression in 2022. His nine interceptions are the most he’s had in one season since 2010, and his passer rating of 92.4 is his lowest in a single season as the full-time starter.
That being said, Rodgers and the Packers offense have changed things around the last few weeks thanks to the emergence of rookie receiver Christian Watson. The second-round pick has had such a significant impact that Rodgers has hinted it could convince him to play for at least another year in 2023.
Still, it’s unclear what Rodgers plans to do, and if he does come back next season, the former first-round pick Jordan Love has reportedly considered a trade request.
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