The Johnny Unitas Foundation announced Monday that senior quarterback Graham Harrell has been named the recipient of the prestigious Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award that is presented annually to the nation's top senior quarterback.
Harrell, a senior from Ennis, is the most prolific passer in Texas Tech history and second all-time in the NCAA with 15,429 career passing yards. He will accept the honor on Friday evening Dec. 12, at the Tremont Grand Meeting & Banquet Facility in downtown Baltimore.
"I want to thank the Johnny Unitas Foundation for this incredible honor," said Harrell. "To be mentioned in the same breath with this true legend of football is very special for me, my family and my teammates. This award wouldn't be possible without the support of my family and everyone at Texas Tech. Hopefully this honor will shine some light on the great things our football program has achieved and how special it is to be a Red Raider."
Harrell still has one more game in a Texas Tech uniform as the Red Raiders will face the Ole Miss Rebels in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2. He and teammate Michael Crabtree will be in Orlando on Thursday for the 2008 Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show where he is a candidate for the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Awards.
To be eligible for this award, all candidates must be completing their college eligibility this season to be eligible. Candidates are judged upon character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, and athletic accomplishments. They must also preserve a positive public image above reproach by avoiding legal issues or other types of scandal.
The namesake of the Golden Arm Award has a storied history which has earned him the recognition of being the greatest quarterback to ever play in the National Football League. An 18-year veteran of the NFL, Unitas played his collegiate career at the University of Louisville (1951-1954), passing for 3007 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Unitas began his pro career with the Baltimore Colts in 1958 and played there 17 years until joining the San Diego Chargers for his final season. His career passing figures include completing 2,830 of 5,186 passes for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns. Among his many records is one that may stand forever, throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games.
Unitas was recently selected as the top quarterback of all-time by the Pro Football Hall of Fame 36-member selection committee. In commemorating the NFL's 25th, 50th and 75th anniversaries, he was honored as the greatest quarterback of all time. Unitas was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
Last year's winner of the Golden Arm Award was Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, who is now with the Atlanta Falcons. Other past winners include current NFL players Brady Quinn (Notre Dame, 2006), Matt Leinart (USC, 2005), Eli Manning (Ole Miss, 2003), Carson Palmer (USC, 2002), David Carr (Fresno State, 2001), and Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997).