Former California wide receiver Chris Harper tried his luck this past spring, leaving the school early to declare for the NFL Draft. The Draft came and went, and Harper went unselected. He signed an undrafted free agent deal with the New England Patriots on May 8, 2015, and, against the odds, made the final cut, and will now be catching passes from Tom Brady on Sundays.
Harper joins 26 other former Bears, officially, in the NFL, including former teammates Richard Rodgers (Green Bay Packers), Marvin Jones (Cincinnati Bengals), Keenan Allen (San Diego Chargers), C.J. Anderson (Denver Broncos), Bryan Anger (Jacksonville Jaguars), Cameron Jordan (New Orleans Saints), Chris McCain, Mike Mohamed (Houston Texans), Mitchell Schwartz (Cleveland Browns), Brian Schwenke (Tennessee Titans) and Steve Williams (Chargers).
“I was proud of Chris. The great thing about it is, he got an opportunity," said head coach Sonny Dykes during his Sunday teleconference following the Bears' 73-14 win over Grambling State.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1528608-chris-harper-expla... That opportunity for Harper came thanks to the Patriots placing Brandon LaFell on the PUP list, the release of veteran Reggie Wayne (who asked to be released), as well as the waiving of injured receiver Brian Tyms at the end of August. In his final preseason game, Harper hauled in two passes for 27 yards in a 12-9 loss to the New York Giants.
"They had a bunch of injuries, and I think, probably, when he started camp, he might have been considered by some people a longshot to make the team, but you get opportunities in life, and you make the most of it," Dykes said. "I’m really happy for him, proud of him, and I think he’ll do well. That’s the hard thing about the NFL – right place, right time is really important. When you’re in the right place at the right time, you need to make the most of your opportunities. Chris did that, and I’m really happy for him, proud of him, and all his former teammates are happy about it, as well.”
In 2014, Harper caught 52 balls for 634 yards and a career-high six touchdowns, as the Cal passing attack grew to include other downfield threats in Trevor Davis (24 catches, 399 yards) and Kenny Lawler (led the team with 701 yards, 9 touchdowns and 54 catches) saw the maturation of two big-bodied receivers in Darius Powe (20 catches, 328 yards) and Stephen Anderson (46 catches, 661 yards). In fact, four different Bears receivers had at least 46 catches and 580 yards or more. In 2013, only three players had more than 580 yards receiving (Bryce Treggs with 751, Harper with 852, Rodgers with 608) and only two players had 50 or more catches – Treggs (77) and Harper (70) -- as Cal went 1-11.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder played in 35 games with 23 starts at Cal and finished his career ranked seventh in school history with 163 receptions for 2,030 yards and 13 touchdowns that ranked 10th in school history.
During the preseason, Harper was New England's most productive receiver, leading the Pats in receptions (15) and receiving yards (150), while scoring one touchdown.