Wide receiver Chris Harper certainly proved himself in the collegiate ranks, leading the Kansas State Wildcats in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns for the past two seasons. But he knew that in order to reach the NFL, he had to train at a higher level.
“Athletes' Performance is a great training environment,” says Harper. “When you’re at school, there is a wide array of people you’re with but not everyone there is trying to play professional football. Everyone here has the same goal in mind—making it to the next level.”
Harper's work ethic and natural abilities on the field impressed his coach at Athletes' Performance, Brent Callaway. “As far as guys to look out for, [Harper] is definitely one to keep your eye on,” says Callaway. "He’s a dual threat. His size allows him to shield guys off, but at the same time he’s got the speed to stretch the field. He’s got hands of glue and an ability to run precise routes like a possession wide receiver.”
Working with a new set of coaches and teammates wasn’t the only change Harper found at Athletes' Performance. He says, "We put a lot of time and effort into what we did here. That’s probably the biggest difference between school and AP: the focus, detail and emphasis on all the small things we do. It all really correlates, where what we do on the field is the same kind of thing we do in the weight room, where we try and strengthen all the positions and angles. I really feel the difference when I run and go through the drills.”
His work at AP paid off at the NFL Combine, where he put together a solid performance. (See his full report at NFL.com.) Analysts are projecting him as a third or fourth round draft pick, comparing him most notably to Early Doucet and Anquan Boldin in terms of size and strength. (See Do Combine Scores Affect Draft Results?) Harper says, “I was already confident before I came to [AP], but refining my skills by going through all the drills a million times where everything just feels natural since coming here has made me even more confident."
Harper can feel some assurance knowing that several NFL teams are in the market for wide receivers, most notably the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and Houston Texans. Wherever Harper ends up, his aggressiveness paired with his speed, size and ball-handling ability should put him on fans' radar.