USC Athletics has made it official; former North Texas offensive coordinator Graham Harrell will become the Trojans' new offensive coordinator.
Harrell's hire comes after former offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury left the Trojans to accept a head coaching gig with the Arizona Cardinals earlier this month.
In a wide-ranging interview with USC Athletics, Clay Helton said Harrell would have full control of play calling. "My job on game days will be managing game situations," Helton said.
Harrell is one of five coaches joining USC's 2019 staff. The Trojans added Mike Jinks as running backs coach, Chad Kauha'aha'a as the defensive line coach, Greg Burns as secondary coach, and Joe DeForest as outside linebackers coach.
The move showcases that the Trojans are committed to both the youth movement and the air raid offense. Harrell at 33 is six years younger than Kingsbury and also utilized the air raid offense that Kingsbury was set to bring to USC before his resignation.
The air raid offense is a pass-heavy scheme in a spread formation. With that scheme, Harrell turned North Texas from 109th in total yardage in 2016 to 13th in 2017.
Like Kingsbury, Harrell also succeeded as a quarterback at Texas Tech University. To this day, Harrell leads Texas Tech in career passing yards and touchdowns, with Kingsbury as a close second.
Harrell joins a USC team that went 5-7 last season and did not qualify for a bowl game. Despite the tumultuous season, Harrell inherits an offense that will include pro-style quarterback JT Daniels along with a plethora of talented receivers such as senior Michael Pittman Jr., redshirt junior Tyler Vaughns and standout freshman Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Harrell will need to make an immediate impact at USC to finish recruiting by National Signing Day on Feb. 6. The Trojans look to secure hard verbal commit Puka Nacua and Kyle Ford, two potential impacts for USC's receiver core. Both commits are still considering other opportunities on the west coast.
Harrell will be the youngest coach on USC's staff. He is four years younger than tight ends coach Keary Colbert.
Despite his lack of high-level coaching experience, Harrell's development of North Texas quarterback Mason Fine is an encouraging sign for the Trojans season ahead. Fine ranks No. 1 in passing yards in the Conference USA division. Previously, Fine ranked as high as 11th out of 13 conference members just two years prior.
Harrell will have over a month before spring practice starts for the Trojans.
USC will begin its 2019 campaign against Fresno State at home on Aug. 31.