Oregon's Ekpre-Olomu will go head-to-head with former Duck and current Wildcat Chris Harper in the Fiesta Bowl.
More than three years have passed since Chris Harper decided to transfer from Oregon to Kansas State; the school that was a little closer to home and the school that reportedly was going to let him have a chance to play quarterback. Though the latter assurance never came to fruition, Harper has found calm in Manhattan, as the senior wide receiver leads the Wildcats in receptions (50) and receiving yards (786) for a second season in a row. Ironically, Harper and Ducks will be reunited in the final collegiate game for the Wichita (Kan.) native, providing an intriguing storyline and a different kind of familiarity between player and program.
"Of course, the coaches that recruited him, they're still here, so they know what type of athlete he is," says Oregon senior defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan, who was a member of the same recruiting class as Harper. "On top of that, [the coaches] know what type of teammates and guys that he has around him that do a real good job of complementing him. We understand he's a threat for their offense and we really have to pay attention to him."
Any worries that Harper may have some potential insight on Oregon's scheme/game plan were assuaged by Jordan, who said he'd be surprised if Harper could recall much about the ins and outs of the program from time he transferred, to now.
"I don't think he remembers much of what was going on while he was here," smiled Jordan. "I know he's really pumped for this game and so are we. He's coming back and playing at a school he loves, so I feel like he probably has something to prove to the program."
The players charged with keeping Harper in check in Glendale are sophomore cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu; battle-tested members of the secondary who have seen just about every variety of receiver that exists at the collegiate level to this point in their careers. For Ekpre-Olomu, dealing with Harper's size and strength will be of particular concern.
"He's a real big, physical receiver," said Ekpre-Olomu of Harper. "The thing that's stood out to me so far is that he's able to get up in the air and snatch the ball out of the air. That's different than most of the receivers who just wait for the ball to come to them. I see him coming back to the ball a lot of the times and I think he's just a great receiver getting the ball out of mid-air."