Harper, who is the top back in the state of Florida for the 2008 recruiting class, feels his season ended a lot sooner than he wanted it to, but he feels its all part of the plan he's supposed to follow. He said, "The season ended a little earlier than I wanted it to, but God does things for a reason and it's time to move on to the next thing. This year I was more focused on the team and being the leader I needed to be. My junior year I was more about doing my thing. So this year it was more towards what the team needed. I still finished with 92 carries for 1015 yards and 15 touchdowns. I played both sides of the ball at linebacker, but that was more in the big games. I really am not sure the stats I had playing there but I think they were crazy. I know I had a lot of tackles for loss."
For Harper, who starred at Trinity Christian Academy, recruiting has really begun to pick up in intensity. He explains, "Coaches are coming around a lot now but I am just trying to stay humble. Contrary to what people think I am not leaning anywhere and I am going to wait and ride this thing out. I am going to put it in God's hands because he'll lead me in the right direction."
Always a humble kid, Harper explains that at this time there are five schools he is focusing on: Florida, Florida State, Miami, Clemson and Illinois. "Those five have been the most consistent throughout. LSU is a team that I've always liked because of the way they use their running backs, but I don't hear too much from them. They still send me stuff some and are still on the outside for me," stated Harper.
On Thursday Jamie got to experience something many Florida high school players can only imagine. That thing was walking into his school and seeing coaches from the "Big 3" waiting to get a chance to talk to him. He says, "FSU is the only school that hasn't came for an in-home visit yet. They were at the school yesterday at the same time as Florida and Miami. There were three coaches from FSU, and one each from Florida and Miami. From FSU were Coach Dawsey, Coach Haggins and Coach Carter. For me I have great support around me and they teach me to make sure there isn't a stone left unturned. They teach me to make sure to keep this professional."
Some have wondered where FSU stands with Jamie. There have been rumors throughout from the Noles leading to not even being considered. Jamie explains, "FSU was my childhood favorite. They'll get from me what they need, but I need to get from them what I need. I know they have a major need for me, and they are definitely in the mix. I am taking an official there next weekend. Taking these visits is a whole new experience and I don't know what to expect. FSU is my second visit as I am taking a visit to Illinois this weekend. Really, I have no clue why I'm visiting there. They've done a great job recruiting me and I know the recruiter there well."
There have been a few former Nole players who have been tied to Jamie in terms of their possible influence on if he'll become a Nole. "Working with Kez McCorvey has nothing to do with this decision. He's just trying to make people faster and better athletes. He might say some things here and there, but he never pressures me. He's a great person to learn from. I'm looking at working with Titus before I go to the All-Star game in Orlando (the ESPN game). With Lamar Lewis, we hardly ever talk about football. It's always about making sure we're both doing well and about life," stated Harper.
One topic discussed is the amount of players the Noles have committed at running back. For Harper, it doesn't matter. If the school fits what he wants, that's where he'll go. He says, "I am looking for the opportunity to play, chemistry with the players and coaches and coaching stability. Coach Fisher has broken down to me what they're doing and the guys they're bringing in. I am not an average kid. I like competition, so it doesn't matter to me. He told me a story about JaMarcus Russell that has really stuck with me. Coach Fisher said that when Russell came in they signed two other quarterbacks, but it didn't matter because LSU was where he wanted to be and knew he was a competitor. For some reason that point stuck."
While Harper is a long ways off from making a decision, he knows where he intends on visiting. "I am taking visits to Miami, Florida and probably Clemson," said Harper. When asked if in fact the Tigers have been in the lead throughout this process, he continues, "Clemson has always been at the top of my list, but not always the leader. People have kind of blown that out of proportion. They are just an example of what I am looking for. They showcase their talent in the backfield and build their offense around the talented backfield. They are just the example of what I want."
Now that his senior season has come to a close, Harper intends to continue working out and staying in shape. With the ESPN game coming up he'll have a shot to showcase his ability on a national stage. He says, "Right now I'm just trying to maintain my speed. I am going to get bigger regardless, but I want to make sure I keep my speed and keep my head on right. I'm at 228 pounds right now and I am hoping to keep the 4.3 speed. That's why I'm going to go back to working with Titus. I want to try to show my talent at the game, but I can't say I'm going to do too much because really I hate losing and I want to win."
Harper is a talented kid and has the rare combination of size and speed. It is not often you'll find a 230 pound back running a consistent and legitimate 4.3 40. The speed and size is what has attracted the attention from colleges across the country and is the reason why Harper is one of the most coveted prospects in this entire class. Harper stated that he is even and that he's been trying to stay under the radar, but that'll be hard if he plays well at the ESPN game.
Stay tuned to NoleDigest for further updates with Harper and the rest of the 2008 recruiting class.