Chris Harper hoping for 1,000-yard season

It’s not out of the ordinary for a receiver to say his goal for the upcoming season is to catch so many passes that he eclipses the 1,000-yard mark. Still, it was interesting to hear Chris Harper say those words Wednesday at a Catbacker event in Wichita.

The Kansas State senior expects his final season to be his finest, and he thinks he can deliver the stats to prove it.

“I’m trying to get as many yards as possible,” Harper said. “I want to go over 1,000 and break the record. That should be what every receiver wants to do.”

Harper is coming off a 547-yard season that featured five touchdowns. As a sophomore, he went for 330 yards and four touchdowns. Combined, those numbers barely approach the 1,000-yard mark. But Harper has definitely made enough big catches to prove he has the potential for a breakout year. He is the Wildcats’ top overall receiver, and shares a deep connection with quarterback Collin Klein.

But receivers have rarely piled up big yardage at K-State. Only five players in program history have totaled more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season. The single-season record Harper referred to is held by Jordy Nelson (1,606 yards in 2007), while James Terry, Quincy Morgan, Darnell McDonald and Brandon Banks have also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.

If Harper can reach his goal, he will be in elite company.

So what is he working on this summer to help him get there?

“Just route running, getting better at routes,” Harper said. “You can never be perfect at route running. You can always add something to it.”

Harper thinks he has improved significantly in that area since the Cotton Bowl, but that’s not the only reason he is optimistic. After catching passes from Klein six times a week this summer, he thinks Klein has progressed as a thrower, too.

Klein threw for big yardage in K-State’s spring game, and has apparently been on target during offseason workouts.

“He’s looked even better than he did in the spring,” Harper said of Klein. “He has been throwing all summer. He’s had individual workouts and he’s looking real good. He is getting it out way quicker. He’s even surprising me. He’s got a lot more zip on it and he’s a lot more confident. That’s the big thing for a quarterback, having the confidence to throw it wherever you want it.”

Not that Harper thought Klein needed to improve as a passer.

“We could have had way more yards last year, the thing I’ve been looking at is we didn’t have big plays after catches,” Harper said. “A lot of people were blaming Collin for that, but we as receivers didn’t do our jobs. That’s on us more than him.”

Of course, Klein is also a strong runner. Harper knows controlling the clock with quarterback keepers and handoffs will continue to be a big part of K-State’s offense. He simply thinks K-State’s passing attack will be potent enough to produce some big stats.

“We have to maintain that balance,” Harper said. “We have a lot of good players and a lot of good receivers, but I still want to get over 1,000.”