Oscar Smith gets an unexpected arrival: two-sport star BriQuan Harrell
By Larry Rubama The Virginian-Pilot
Just days before its biggest game of the year, the Oscar Smith football team got an unexpected arrival. And the Tigers basketball team – in its first week of the season – will benefit, too. BriQuan Harrell, a two-sport star at Western Branch, moved into the Oscar Smith zone and enrolled this week. Harrell, who said he moved for family reasons, practiced with his new teams Thursday, running through football drills before attending an evening basketball practice.
Harrell, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior, “is fully eligible right now for anything,” Oscar Smith athletic director Ray Collins said. The Virginia High School League also cleared Harrell. “It is our understanding he has transferred from Western Branch to Oscar Smith based on a physical move,” VHSL spokesman Mike McCall wrote in an email. “If he meets the transfer rule as it appears he has, he is by VHSL rule eligible immediately. There are no provisions for how late in the season a player may be added to a football roster.”
Harrell arrived as Oscar Smith (11-2) prepares for a Class 6 state semifinal against Colonial Forge (12-0) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Stafford. At Western Branch, he played football for the first time since middle school. He was the starting quarterback and played defensive back and earned second-team All-Southeastern District honors as an all-purpose player. In basketball, Harrell was second-team All-Tidewater last season after he helped lead the Bruins to their first state tournament appearance.
Harrell’s first day at Oscar Smith was Wednesday, and he is expected to play defensive back Saturday. “I was just focusing on basketball at first, but then when I got here the football coaches started talking to me and asked me if I’d play,” Harrell said. “I thought they were playing at first but they let me get an opportunity, so I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
Harrell’s first basketball game is Tuesday. The Tigers, ironically, play at Western Branch tonight in their season opener, but Harrell will be on the bench.
Harrell said he’s looking forward to football, even though he hasn’t played in four weeks. “It didn’t take long to shake off the rust,” he said. “But I feel good and I feel wanted. ... I’m just glad to be here, honestly.”
When Oscar Smith football coach Scott Johnson learned Harrell was enrolled, he asked about football but didn’t want to press him. “I didn’t know what his thoughts were and I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable,” Johnson said. “So I told him to go home and talk to his parents.” Johnson said he plans to use Harrell as a lock-down cornerback. “Had he been a senior, we wouldn’t have used him,” Johnson said. “But he’s a junior and he’s coming back for us. We’re not asking him to learn something new. Just cover a guy one-on-one.”
Harrell averaged 16.2 points a game last season. The Tigers started this season without last year’s leading scorer, Cam Thomas, who remains at the school but isn’t playing basketball. Harrell “just fell into our lap,” Tigers basketball coach LaVar Griffin said. “He fits right in and the kids are excited to have him. He’s going to help both of programs.”
Staff writer Jami Frankenberry contributed to this report.
Larry Rubama, 757-446-2273, firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow @LHRubama on Twitter.