Harding Harper talks top two

After transferring from Birmingham's Jackson-Olin, Harding Harper put together a First Team All-State (Alabama 6A) season at Carver High School in Montgomery. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker took an official visit to Florida International in December and has two set for January. Harper talked about Vanderbilt and more in the latest recruiting update..

"I'm going to Arkansas on January 13th and to Vanderbilt on January 20th," said Harding Harper. "I'm looking at some other schools, but those are definitely my top two."

It's Harper's dream to play in the SEC and both of his top two schools meet that criteria. However, there are different qualities he likes about each program.

"Vanderbilt has a great athletic department and a fine coaching staff," Harper said. "I've talked with Coach Franklin several times on the phone, but I can't wait to meet him in person. I think that will be a great thing. Coach (Wesley) McGriff is recruiting me. He was here for an in-home visit. I think he's a stand-up guy."

The visit will mark Harper's first trip to Nashville. The weekend of January 20th is when many of the 2012 recruits will arrive on campus for their official visits, so Harper will have a chance to meet potential future teammates in addition to coaches. He's excited to spend more time with linebackers coach, Brent Pry.

"I'm very of fond of Coach Pry as a person and as a coach," Harper said. "I like how excited he is about football. He likes to get out there and get to it. That's just how I am."

Vanderbilt will have plenty of competition from SEC rival, Arkansas. Reggie Johnson, the Razorback linebacker coach, is putting the full-court press on Harper to boost their class. He's also looking to possibly set up visits with Kentucky and Ole Miss.

"I'm probably going to make my decision right after my visits," Harper said. "The opportunity for early playing time is probably going to be a big factor on where I decide to go. I doubt that I'll be redshirted, but if it does happen that's just something I'll have to accept. I'll take into account the school's academics and coaching staff as well."

Harper played both middle and outside linebacker at Carver High School. He made 112 tackles, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions on the way to All-State and All-Metro honors.

"In past seasons I relied mostly on my athleticism and physical abilities," said Harper. "This year I played with more football savvy. I worked hard on perfecting my trade. I kept my body at a low center of gravity helping me do a better job stopping the run or dropping back in coverage."

In addition to Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and FIU, Harper has also been offered by Kentucky, Illinois, Memphis, and Tennessee.

The Carver Wolverines finished 7-4 on the season falling to Murphy in the first round of the 6A playoffs. Harper is currently playing varsity basketball.

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