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Updated: March 6, 2022 @ 1:40 pm
WVU’s Garrett Greene (6) is chased by Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey. Greene is one of three Mountaineer quarterbacks vying for the starting job under new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell.
Will “Goose” Crowder played in two games at quarterback for WVU in 2021.

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WVU’s Garrett Greene (6) is chased by Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey. Greene is one of three Mountaineer quarterbacks vying for the starting job under new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell.
Will “Goose” Crowder played in two games at quarterback for WVU in 2021.
MORGANTOWN — You kind of wonder what was going through Graham Harrell’s mind the first time he walked into his quarterback room after being named offensive coordinator at West Virginia.
What awaited him were three quarterbacks, mostly without experience, short and tall, good runners, not so good runners, right-handed, left-handed.
He had a smorgasbord of quarterbacks, but you can’t have three quarterbacks, you need just one.
In some ways it could have been a shock to the one-time Texas Tech All-American who is being called on now to be Mr. Fixit for the WVU offense that was without teeth a year ago.
Fortunately, Harrell isn’t easy to shock. He got that out of the way when he went to North Texas to be the quarterback coach, as he revealed on Thursday as he met with the Mountaineer media for the first time.
The subject was the prototype quarterback and what Harrell looks for in the man he’d like to be at the position, but he made it clear early that there is no one blueprint and that there would be no snap judgments on first impressions.
His new freshman quarterback at North Texas walked into the room and he was taken aback.
“I took his commitment without ever seeing him,” Harrell said. “The first time he walked in the room, I was hoping it wasn’t him.”
He stood maybe 5-foot-10, weighed about 150 pounds.
“Man, I messed up. They’re gonna fire me,” he said to himself.
But that didn’t happen.
“He ended up playing as a true freshman and was one of the best players I’ve ever been around,” Harrell said.
And so it was that the point was driven home that you can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge a quarterback until you see him go at the coverage.
His room right now has holdovers Garrett Greene, a gung-ho left-hander who has shown more running ability than throwing; Will “Goose” Crowder, who is more of a passer; and a heralded four-star freshman out of Arizona, Nicco Marchiol, who is potentially a No. 1 QB even though he’s a freshman.
This spring, which begins shortly, is all about Harrell and three proteges.
“Quarterback is kind of a hot topic,” head coach Neal Brown said. “We’ve got three guys who are going to get the reps this spring. We have 15 practices and we are going to get a good evaluation of the quarterbacks.”
The question that has dogged Brown all off-season, especially since Jarret Doege opted to enter the transfer portal, is why he didn’t dip into the portal to get an experienced QB.
“If we had gotten a transfer quarterback I don’t know how we would get a good evaluation on the young guys. It’s not just about now but about the future,” Brown said. “We have three guys — Garrett Greene, Nicco Marchiol and Will Crowder — who deserve the opportunity to show what they have.
“We believe one of them will take the job or we’ll get it narrowed down to two. If that’s not the case, we’ll go find a guy. There will be guys available. I thought it was important those guys get a chance to show what they can do in the spring.”
And they will have the benefit of working with Harrell, who knows how to handle young quarterbacks as he proved last season at USC.
“He has full control,” Brown said of Harrell. “He’s going to give a new wrinkle to it. What it is is his personality and things like that. He felt really good about what we were doing and he is going to come in and put in what he feels really good about that he did in the past.”
Last year at USC, Harrell had not one but two true-freshmen quarterbacks, so he knows what he’s doing there.
“I do think having young guys is fun,” he said. “You get to mold them the way you want to mold them and you can ingrain things in them. You’re not necessarily breaking four-year habits. You’re breaking one- or two-year habits. But at the same time, you can’t replace experience, either. Experience helps, and game experience is the most important kind of experience. We’ll do the best we can to make up for it this spring and get those guys a ton of reps.”
The problem with going with a young quarterback is that it is the position of leadership on the offense and that means he’ll be charged with directing 300-pound upperclassmen on the offensive line who have played three or four years of football at the college level.
“Being a leader is part of being a quarterback, whether you like it or not,” Harrell said. “You have to have the courage to speak up. Obviously, on-field production helps with that. That gives you credibility. Being the quarterback also gives you credibility.
“Whether you like it or not, everybody’s looking at you. The other thing that’s important is whenever we define our culture, those guys better embody it,” Harrell continued. “If they don’t, you’re in trouble as a football team. If the quarterbacks don’t embody your culture, if they don’t embody who you want to be as a football team, or what you are preaching as a coaching staff, you’re in a lot of trouble. If they don’t embody it, no one will.”
So Harrell will judge them on how they play, how they lead and how they buy into the program.
“They’ve done a good job of doing the best they can to lead that unit. They all have personalities you are drawn to, and that’s something you look for. They influence other people. To me, the best quarterbacks are the ones who make those around them better,” Harrell said.
“He may not be the most talented guy, but when he steps on the field the level of play rises because the quarterback is out there. They are young, it’s not always easy to step up and speak or hold others accountable, but you are the quarterback and you don’t have a choice.”
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