Chris Harper's brother happened to go to Northwest while he was in high school, and Harper enrolled at the school two games into the season. He had to sit out three games before finally getting to put on the pads and get back to playing football.
While there was false speculation about Harper being recruited back then, there is no doubt the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder is being recruited now. Kansas State, Nebraska, California, Missouri, Texas A&M, Kansas, Oklahoma State and most recently Michigan have offered a scholarship. Florida, USC and Notre Dame have been in regular contact as of late.
When Notre Dame defensive coordinator Corwin Brown was in Wichita to check on Arthur Brown, Scout.com's top-rated player in the class of 2008, Brown swung by Northwest to give a little face time for Harper. The two text and talk a few times a week.
"We just talk about all kinds of different stuff," Harper said. Northwest's quarterback last season, he passed for 500 yards, and rushed for 1,000 more yards, leading them to a berth in the state playoffs. "Coming down there and stuff like that. He asks me how I'm doing outside of football, just talking.
"He is honest with me, he is pretty cool. He shoots it to me straight where as a lot of schools say they're recruiting me as an athlete, he tells me they are recruiting me as wide receiver.
"He said he wants to offer me, but he can't offer me because (Notre Dame head coach Charlie) Weis has to give out the offers or approve the offers or whatever. He said (Monday) they're going to look at it and talk about it. I'm going to call (Monday) night to see if they're going to offer me or not."
Maybe Weis and Brown will leave a message beforehand to call.
As a sophomore, despite sitting out three games, Harper said he had around 600 yards receiving and 10 combined touchdowns. He also returned punts and kicks. This coming fall, Harper will play quarterback again, where his team needs him the most.
People joke around with Harper that he looks more like a linebacker than anything. He certainly has the strength of a linebacker. Harper said he can bench press 305 pounds and squat 435 pounds. But he also has the speed of a collegiate receiver.
"I haven't run a timed 40 in awhile, but I ran a 4.44 my sophomore year," Harper said.
Harper, who has a 3.0 GPA, has schools looking at him as quarterback, receiver or athlete. Also a talented basketball player that averaged over 14 points and over 10 rebounds per game this past season, Kansas State told him he could play both on the next level. No other school has offered in that regard.
"I want to play quarterback but I wouldn't care if I play receiver," Harper said. "There is certain schools I would fit in at a quarterback. But those schools like Notre Dame or USC, I'm not that type of quarterback. I'm more of a rollout, zone-ready type, option quarterback. We run kind of a west coast spread type offense. We do a lot of different stuff."
Harper only plays offense, so when Northwest is working on defensive things in practice, he went over to the jug machine to catch the balls. That could pay off in the long run.
"If I know I'm going to a school where I'm going to play receiver, I will work on it a lot more after the season," Harper said. He works out at both quarterback and receiver at combines.
Kansas State, the first to offer, was the early leader for Harper, but with all the recent attention, the playing field has leveled off. Once quick to list a top five and wanting to make an early decision, Harper says now he will probably wait until taking all five official visits before deciding. If Notre Dame offers, they are likely to get a visit he said. Harper's father has talked about driving to the Midwest to check out both Michigan and Notre Dame sometime this summer.
"I know the school is not really that big," Harper said of Notre Dame. "I know they have great tradition and it's a private school. it's a good school. They don't accept just any kind of people at Notre Dame. You have to be a good person and good student obviously.
"I know they have great tradition and they get some of the top players every year. They get more publicity than any other school. I see them on TV every single week."