Build: Harper is a great looking prospect. He wasn't difficult to spot at all even though I left my roster information and camera at home as I was in a hurry to get out the door. At around 6-foot-6, Harper who claims to be around 250 is "skinny". Has a really good frame to hold additional weight. Has some real size in his legs and that will help him fill out even more. Should be a 6-foot-6 and 265 to 270 pound tight end.
Performance: Harper really started out the game as more of a blocker. He was used a lot on the edge to slow down the backside pursuit of Blinn College, who was very aggressive up front, and he did very well. Gets low enough to get leverage and against smaller, quicker rushers was able to get his hands on them and it was over for the defender. Split some duties most of the day with another tight end in a personnel package that I will mention later.
Got free in the second quarter with about six minutes left in the half for around a 55-yard score. Blinn didn't know what hit them, but as sparingly as he was used in the first half with the split personnel package, the fact that Navarro wasn't throwing the ball a lot and the fact that Harper to that point really hadn't released as a receiver more or less lulled the defense to sleep and then caught them napping.
The throw was perfect and Harper caught it in stride. Really, really runs well for a big guy. Definitely a big, fast athlete who can stretch the field vertically as a receiving threat. Will impact this area immediately at Nebraska next year as a nice pass catching compliment to Mike McNeil and Dreu Young.
Negatives: Really the only negatives I could see from the day when it came to the day and Harper was that he wasn't on the field a lot. Basically there was a personnel grouping and if Harper (#19) was on the field then there weren't 3 or 4 wide. If Harper was on the field then #9 was off. He was the additional wide receiver. It was very predictable and easy to read as just a spectator. Blinn had no problems figuring it out when they had to roll into dime.
Harper was also splitting time with another tight end that got some series in the second half ahead of him. Personally, I didn't think that Harper got enough action and to only throw the ball his way one time was a crime. I saw him release as a receiver only twice. On the one play he caught a touchdown. On the other play, he released as the quarterback scrambled and was open, but the quarterback was unable to find him.
Verdict: While I wasn't sure how to feel about bringing in another tight end to Nebraska, and a junior college one at that, as part of this 2010 class; after having seen Harper I will say that I was impressed. I think that he has the tools to be a special one and the fact that he is a three for three really adds more value to an already very good situation.
Other players of note in the game:
Derrick Hall, RB, Navarro – Hall took the second carry in the game 83 yards for a touchdown. A former Texas Hot 100 player out of high school, he is the real deal, but did get overshadowed by the Blinn RB.
Michael Hayes, RB, Blinn – Not as thick as Hall, but a lot quicker, runs just as hard and has better straight line speed. His last touchdown run into the northwest corner was amazing when he dove from about the 3 and was completely parallel to the ground going into the end zone.
David Grant, OL, Navarro – Grant was a 2008 commitment to Nebraska who never qualified out of HS. Started at LT was pretty solid all day. Always was a raw player on film and still needs some work. Great frame though.
Cameron Newton, QB, Blinn – Big, tall and powerful. This QB could do it all. Had all the passes in the book. Ran well for a big guy too, at 6-foot-6 and 248-pounds.
Navarro had a couple of freshman DL who I think will be special next year. Their quarterback was a tremendous athlete, just not sure that he is a college quarterback.