#3 Chris Harper
Position: Wide Receiver
Previous College: University of Oregon
Status: On Scholarship
Christopher Deon Harper (b. Sept. 10, 1989), along with Arthur Brown, is the only remaining member of the "lost boys" — Kansas players whom Ron Prince let slip out of state, but later transferred back to play for a real coach.
(Brodrick Smith washed out prior to
last this season and Bryce Brown did so just three games into the last season.)
Brodrick Smith might have been our best wide-out at the beginning of 2010, Sheldon Smith might have been the best last summer and Tyler Lockett might be the best if healthy, but Harper proved he has the most upside.
Consider that 2011 was Harper's first season actually having played the position for a full year prior to it. Even when he saw time at receiver at Oregon, he predominantly drilled with the quarterbacks for most of his freshman year.
It showed. He was pretty raw, but he came on strong in late 2010, catching four passes for a then-career-high 74 yards, including a 38-yarder, against Colorado. He followed that with a difficult TD catch at North Texas.
The Pinstripe Bowl might have been his best effort of the season — he caught five passes in that otherwise forgettable game, and not one of them was called back for a salute. And then there was the 2011 spring game.
For most of that glorified exhibition, it appeared Harper virtually would be shut out of the passing game, only having caught one pass for 15 yards, but he provided the "game's" exclamation point with a 7-yard TD on the final play.
That catch heralded some of the excitement he would bring to the table in 2011.
Whether it was the late TD against Eastern Kentucky, the multiple clutch catches against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M or the back-shoulder snag at Texas, Harper came through big-time when opponents least were prepared for it.
In total, Harper grabbed 40 catches for 547 yards and five touchdowns to lead the team with 42.1 receiving yards per game — pedestrian WR numbers for most teams, but stellar for our run-first, run-second, run-third offense.
It carried over to the 2012 spring game, too. Harper led all receivers with 13 catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. If his chemistry with Collin Klein continues to grow, Harper might make a push for All-Big 12 status.