Sonny Dykes is looking to turn the Cal Bears into a Pac 12 contender in 2013, but will have to do it without the team’s top quarterback, wide receiver and top two running backs from 2012. That leaves the door open for someone to step up and become a leader in Berkeley next fall, even if they don’t have a wealth of experience under their belt. At receiver, there’s no better option to lead than sophomore Chris Harper.
Last season, Harper stepped up as a freshman and finished second on the team in receiving behind only Keenan Allen. He hauled in 41 catches (20 more than No. 3 on the team Bryce Treggs) for 544 yards with two touchdowns. He was the only receiver other than Allen to record multiple receiving touchdowns in 2012 and finished with the second highest yards per catch average on the team, averaging over 13 yards per catch.
Harper was held out during spring practices as he recovered from shoulder surgery, giving Treggs an opportunity to step into a featured role and prove his ability as a possible home-run threat next fall. But Harper has shown he can be counted on for a full season already. If he comes back completely healthy in the fall, which he should, then he should slide right into the No. 1 receiver role and be a reliable pass-catching option in Dykes’ up-tempo offense.
A passing offense needs reliable hands, especially one that will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2013. Harper has hands as reliable as anyone on the roster heading into fall camp. Can he step up as a leader next season?