McKeesport (Pa.) defensive tackle Curtis Harper can’t recall the exact number of tackles and sacks he had last year, but the junior clearly remembers when he shined on the brightest of stages. During a heated semifinals playoff game, the 6-foot-2, 290-pounder practically lived in the backfield, racking up seven tackles and four sacks in a McKeesport romp.
“All I can tell you is I was just dominant,” Harper said bluntly.
That game alone was probably enough to open the eyes of college recruiters. Less than two months after the season ended, Harper picked up his first offer from Boston College. Shortly thereafter, Iowa State, Bowling Green and then Kent State anted up.
And his latest verbal came courtesy of Maryland assistant and Pennsylvania-area recruiter Dave Borbely March 2.
“It was great to get a Big Ten offer, to show what I really could do with my athletic ability in that conference,” Harper said. “I talked to Coach Borbely, and he said the coaches liked me at both offensive tackle and defensive tackle, but more for defense. [Borbely] said to keep up the good work, keep working hard and he wanted me to come down for a visit.
“It was pretty big, and I’m thankful he thought enough to offer me. He sounded like a cool guy. I’m looking forward to getting to know him more.”
Harper has never visited College Park, Md., before, but he has plenty of connections to the Old Line State. He said he has family that lives in and around the D.C. corridor.
“It’s a pretty nice area; I like it down there,” Harper said. “I like the city atmosphere.”
The McKeesport product is planning to visit UMD for the first time later during April. He said he wants to meet the coaches in person and learn more about the program in general.
“I really don’t know too much about Maryland right now except they play some nice schools like Michigan,” Harper said. “But I’ll look into it more, and get down there to see what it’s about.”
Harper has already visited Kent State Feb. 27 (that’s when he received the offer) and West Virginia. Next up he’s heading to Boston College March 18-19, and will attempt to see Toledo, Bowling Green and Iowa State soon.
Of the offers he’s procured, Harper said he didn’t have any standouts and “I’m just looking into them all now.”
That said, there are a few scholarships Harper would like to land in time.
“I like a whole bunch of school like Michigan State, West Virginia, Temple -- some big Big Ten and Big 12 schools,” said Harper, who is receiving interest from Pitt, Temple, Syracuse and Toledo. “Penn State would be great. It’s the hometown school, and it’s a great academic school and obviously it’s a great athletic program.”
Harper is unsure when he’d like to make his college decision. He said much will depend on what trips he’s able to embark on and what schools choose to offer.
“I’m looking forward to maybe committing before my senior season, but it may take longer than that,” Harper said. “I just have to see how things go.”