football

South Bend impresses Harper

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Wichita (Kan.) Northwest four star athlete Chris Harper took his first official visit this past weekend to Notre Dame.
And despite the Irish's 0-4 start and disappointing game against Michigan State, Harper, the nation's No. 16 athlete and No. 156 player overall, said he came away impressed with what he saw.
"It went pretty good," Harper said. "I know my mother really liked it, and I was also pretty impressed. I talked to a lot of the players, coaches and I met some of the coaches I haven't met before. It kind of went the same as the unofficial visit I took up there did. I just talked to more of the teachers and people around campus.
"We went and talked to the communications professors, since that's what I want to major in."
A big factor in Harper's recruitment is the fact that he wants to give quarterback a shot when he arrives on campus as a freshman. He said last week that Notre Dame had mentioned to him that they would be willing to allow him to start at quarterback and be used more in a spread type offense with him being a dual-threat threat.
He talked more with the Irish coaches over the weekend about how he'd be used, but he said the Irish coaches didn't mention specifically that he'd be used at quarterback.
"They just talked to me about a lot of different positions, but they really didn't know where they wanted me to play," Harper said. "All they said is that they want me on the team. I could see that as a both a positive and a negative. They said I could get on field quickly because they don't have enough athletes, and that's a positive.
"Coach (Charlie) Weis said he didn't know where I would play. He said he just knows he wants me there. He said I would be able to find out where I fit in when I would get there."
Some think Notre Dame's start might be a turn off to recruits, but Harper said he saw plenty of positives for the Irish on Saturday.
"It doesn't bother me at all," he said.
"They had some pretty bright spots in the game. Plus, they do have the No. 1 recruiting class on Rivals. I know they're going to be better, and that's another big plus. They have a lot of younger players. The coaches said they have something like only 20 juniors and seniors. They're not afraid to play the younger players."
Harper said he was hosted on the visit by George West, Richard Jackson, Gary Gray and Brian Smith. He also bumped into Demetrius Jones when he was out on the town with the Irish players. It was Jones and West that showed him around campus when he was in for an unofficial visit this summer.
"I talked to Demetrius a little bit, and he didn't have bad things to say about Notre Dame or the coaches," Harper said. "He said that things didn't work out for him, but he told me not to let that discourage me from picking Notre Dame. He said he loved Notre Dame, but he said I have to do what's right for me.
"We also went to the pep rally, and I got to see Regis Philbin. Everybody was yelling at him. I also met Casey Clausen. He was just saying Notre Dame is a good place to be."
Up next is an official visit to Illinois. Harper said he's excited to see what the Illini have to offer. He doesn't know much about Illinois' traditions or what to expect, but if it's anything like the game-day setting in South Bend, then he's excited.
"I know they have a big stadium, and I heard by the time they're done it'll have more than 80,000 people in it," Harper said. "I hope the fans are crazy. Notre Dame's student section is crazy. Even though they lost, nobody left until after they sung the alma mater."
Illinois is one of the schools that is talking to him about playing quarterback. Others like Missouri and Kansas State also remain high on his list because of that. He said he still is "kind of leaning" toward those schools because of the opportunity to play quarterback. A few new schools have tried to enter the race the past few weeks.
"I just talked to Oregon and Virginia Tech," Harper said.
"I saw Oregon play on TV the other week, and they're really nice. I'm working on getting a date set up with Cal, and I know I'll be at K-State and Missouri for visits. I've been talking to Dan Ferrigno at Cal, and I talk to Andy Hill at Missouri. When K-State calls it's almost the entire staff that I talk to. I talk to all the coaches. I talk to Ron Prince and James Franklin all the time."
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