The Cougars signed Sean Harper two years ago, but he never made it onto campus because he didn't have the necessary test scores. Two years at a Mississippi Junior College later, Harper has re-committed to WSU
Cornerback Sean Harper signed with Washington State in February 2015 out of Hart County (Hartwell, Ga.) High, but never actually joined the Cougars on campus because of low test scores, and ended up enrolling at Holmes Community College in Mississippi.
In the college football recruiting world, it’s extremely rare for a non-academic qualifying signee who hits the junior college circuit to end up back at the school he originally signed with out of high school.
But that’s exactly what happened Wednesday morning when Harper committed to WSU for the second time in two years.
In an interview with The Seattle Times Wednesday afternoon, Harper (6-2, 188 pounds) said he came back to the Cougars because of the loyalty they showed him throughout his stint in junior college.
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“Coach (Alex) Grinch stuck with me for two years,” Harper said. “He recruited me out of high school, and (has been) recruiting me ever since he was at Missouri. I think this is the move for me and my family.”
WSU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch kept in touch with Harper via Twitter, checking in with the defensive back every couple of weeks and giving him regular updates on the Cougars’ progress.
Grinch’s consistent interest in Harper struck a chord with Holmes Community College football coach Jeff Koonz too.
“Usually what happens is once they go to junior college, the kid feels like (the school he signed with) forgot about him. WSU did a tremendous job of staying in touch with him, every week sending him a bunch of mail,” Koonz said.
Harper said he fielded strong interest from WSU, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati, where his head coach’s son, Jeff Koonz, is the linebackers coach and defensive coordinator.
But ultimately, Grinch won Harper over with his loyalty. Grinch visited Harper in Mississippi on Wednesday, and Harper has set up a visit to WSU next weekend.
He plans to enroll at WSU in Janaury, and will have three years of eligibility to play two seasons.
Harper is a tall, rangy defensive back who has great coverage skills and plays a very physical game, Koonz said.
“He’s a good athlete with great speed and can run the ball down,” Koonz said. “He made first team all-start here as a freshman, which is very rare. And he had a lot of folks talking to him. WSU is a heck of a school.”
Harper had 21 tackles, four pass breakups and two picks this season at Holmes Community College.
The Cougars have been busy on the recruiting front since their regular season ended with last Friday’s defeat to UW in the Apple Cup.
Harper is the 18th recruit to commit to WSU as part of the 2017 recruiting class, and the second to come out of the SEC’s footprint.
Last week, the Cougars got a verbal commitment from 6-foot-6, 210-pound defensive end B.J. Thompson, who played his prep ball at England High School in England, Ark.
WSU also picked up a legacy quarterback when Drew Bledsoe’s quarterback son, John Bledsoe, of Summit High in Bend, Ore. announced last week that he would attend WSU as a preferred walk-on.
This week, WSU assistant Eric Mele paid Wilsonville (Ore.) High quarterback commit Conner Neville a visit at his home, while JaMarcus Shephard and Roy Manning stopped by Los Angeles, Calif. to see four-star receiver Jamire Calvin, who is expected to visit WSU this weekend.