Early Favorite

West Virginia was Jarrod Harper's favorite school since the age of five, so it probably wasn't a surprise that he made an early commitment to the Mountaineer program.

Harper, who called West Virginia his "dream school" several times during an interview with BlueGoldNews.com, described how he came to be a Mountaineer fan.

"I started watching them when I was five, and my parents liked it there too. Ever since I started playing football, I watched West Virginia and followed them," the well-spoken junior said. "I have been a huge fan, and to get an offer from them this early, it was just a dream."

Harper followed WVU from his home in nearby Western Maryland until 2005, when he got the chance to attend his first Mountaineer game in person. As luck would have it, it turned out to be one off the great games in WVU football history.

"My very first game was the Louisville three overtime game," Harper related. "It was just crazy up there. The fans were going crazy, and that just set it in my mind more that West Virginia was where I wanted to go."

Through his high school career, Harper continued to work to reach his goal of a Division I scholarship, with West Virginia as his ultimate target. He entered into a friendly competition with his older brother and a cousin, each of whom wanted to be the first in the family to get a college football scholarship, and even though he was the youngest of the trio, it turned out that he was the one to make the dream a reality.

"Growing up my family was really supportive of me. We're a football family. We had that competition, and not to sound cocky, but I had the confidence that I could make it, and get a scholarship," he said with just the right amount of self-assurance. "I thought I had the ability, but I knew I had to work hard."

According to his coach, he has done just that, and as a result WVU has landed a safety prospect with the potential to play several positions. A free safety at Mountain Ridge High School, Harper could stay at that spot, move to spur or bandit, or eventually wind up as an outside linebacker, depending on how he fills out over the next two or three years.

"I've always played running back, but my coaches put me on defense my sophomore year, and I really liked that," Harper said. "I always thought I would be a running back in college, but now that I've played safety, I like it. I didn't have much in the way of numbers as a sophomore, but I had around 70 tackles and nine interceptions last year. I can make tackles wherever they play me, and I like playing safety. You can see what the quarterback is doing and what he is going to do, and being able to run and use my speed back there is good."

Another place Harper is able to use his speed in on the track, where he also competes for Mountain Ridge. He was a sprint specialist last year, running the 100, 20, 4x100 and 4x200 for the Miners, and this year plans to branch out and add the long jump to he repertoire.

"Track helps me tremendously," he said of the benefits of taking off pads for a different sport. "It teaches you how to run. Sometimes you forget about the form when you are playing football, so running track reminds me of those things, like how to open up your stride. It's a great help for me."

With any early commitment comes questions about the solidity of the pledge. Signing Day is still more than 11 months away, and if Harper continues to record numbers as he did a year ago, more schools are likely to enter the mix with offers. But while he did indicate he might attend other camps this summer (Michigan State and Rutgers are candidates along with his confirmed trip to WVU), he indicated that his childhood favorite didn't have much to fear in regards to a flip.

"I am sold on West Virginia," he stated firmly.

RIFLE REPORTS

Harper also attended the WVU – Rutgers game last year, and will take in more games this fall. He said that his school's proximity to WVU have fans in the area very happy for him.

"We're pretty close to West Virginia, and my teammates are thrilled," he said of the decision that will send him west to WVU. " A lot of people here follow WVU and like it, so they are very happy."

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Harper should have no trouble qualifying, as he currently holds a 3.75 GPA in his core classes.


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