If Chris Harper wasn’t the best quote on the Kansas State football team, I would expect him to use the most popular line from high school year books — “What a long, strange trip it’s been” — to describe his college football career.
Because, well, it would be true. Coming out of Northwest High in Wichita, he committed to K-State until James Franklin left for Maryland. Then he de-committed and signed with Oregon. Then he played quarterback for the Ducks, then he played receiver for the Ducks and became the first Oregon player in eight years to run, pass and catch a touchdown in the same season.
Then he decided he was homesick. Then he liked the fact that Bill Snyder was coming out of retirement. Then he transferred to K-State, saying he was going to play quarterback. Then he switched to receiver full time during his transfer year on the scout team. Now he is the Wildcats’ top receiver.
Other than wearing the No. 3 at both schools, there weren’t many similarities.
See, that’s one long and strange trip.
Harper’s choices have worked out for him, though.
After throwing and catching passes at Oregon, he has blossomed into a potential NFL receiver with the Wildcats.
Here is how Dane Brugler, of CBSSports.com, evaluates him at the next level:
Harper is a coordinated athlete with above average body control and focus, tracking the ball beautifully and snatching it out of the air with his reliable hands. Harper isn’t overly explosive and is more of a one-speed player, but has been improving each game as a route runner and is an effective perimeter blocker with a strong core for the position. While not a track star, Harper has good-enough football speed and is one of the more underrated receivers for the 2013 class.
Harper turned heads this year by catching 50 passes for 786 yards and three touchdowns. He also played well last year in a quieter role, catching 40 passes for 547 yards and five touchdowns.
Though it is highly unlikely he will achieve his preseason goal of 1,000 yards as a senior, he is having one of the better statistical years for a K-State receiver. With just 30 yards in the Fiesta Bowl, Harper’s senior season will rank 10th in program history for receiving yardage.
He likes the way things turned out for him, and not just on the football field. He lives with long-time friend Arthur Brown and can go back home to Wichita anytime he wants.
Still, the transition to becoming a productive, full-time receiver wasn’t easy. He had to learn to block down field before he could play every down, and that was part of the reason he only caught 25 passes as a sophomore.
But he has evolved into a complete football player, and has made plenty of important catches at important times this season. He doesn’t have Tyler Lockett’s speed, or Tramaine Thompson’s explosiveness, but when Collin Klein needs a big catch he almost always turns to Harper.
His role would be different at Oregon. He’s glad he transferred to K-State.
Up next on the countdown: Oregon coach Chip Kelly starred in a UPS commercial this year (Logistics!) but Bill Snyder has been in a few commercials of his own before.
Last time on the countdown: Canceled game will be played thanks to the BCS.
Editor’s Note: On Jan. 3, the Kansas State football team will face Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. With that in mind, I am counting down to the big game at University of Phoenix Stadium by attempting to write 21 blog posts in 21 days. I use the word “attempting” because I can only think of so many blog ideas. I’m confident that I can go 21 for 21, but your help is appreciated. Feel free to send a blog idea (or two) my way at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @KellisRobinett.