Harper, Tigers work out for NFL scouts at Clemson's Pro Day

by - Senior Writer -
Jamie Harper decided after the bowl game to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

CLEMSON – Dozens of former Clemson football players worked out for NFL scouts and general managers at Thursday morning’s Pro Day, held on the practice fields behind Jervey.

The crowd of NFL personnel watched Chris Hairston run through quickness drills, saw former kicker Richard Jackson try his luck in swirling winds, and took a look at former defensive linemen Jamie Cumbie and Miguel Chavis run through agility and speed drills.

Those players were just a few of the former Tigers being put through the paces on a windswept moring.

However, all eyes were on running back Jamie Harper, who decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. At first, Harper said he was only going to do a few drills, but after going through warm-ups at Clemson’s indoor track facility, decided he felt good enough to go all-out.

“I worked out at the NFL combine, and so when I came out here today I was just going to run for them,” Harper said. “But I got on the track, and I started warming up, and I just felt pretty good. So I decided to go through all of the drills.”

Harper was especially sharp at catching the football, snaring several passes over his head, and he said his performance was due in large part to being able to work out with a professional trainer in Florida.

“Me and DeAndre [McDaniel] have been working out down there with a lot of guys,” he said. “T.J. Yates, Dion Lewis and guys like that. And then there are a lot of NFL guys working out, and it’s been great to see how they go about their business. We all had one common goal, but we had fun.”

Harper said the NFL Combine was a blur – the players went through the drills, went through the standard round of questioning – and then were put back on the shuttle home.

Now, with an NFL lockout looming, he still says he is at peace with his decision, one he didn’t make until after Clemson’s bowl loss to South Florida.

“I really didn’t even give it a thought until after the bowl game,” he said. “I talked to my family about it, and listened to what they had to say, and then I took some time to think about it.”

Harper said he didn’t contact the NFL at that point, instead relying on his Clemson network to help him make the decision.

“I started calling up James Davis and C.J. [Spiller] and Jacoby [Ford] and Crezdon [Butler] and guys like that,” he said. “I wanted their opinion. I wanted to talk to guys who have been in the league. They know what it takes, and they’ve all been through this process before. At that point, I felt like it would be best for me to come out. I talked to my family about it and they supported me.”

His final hurdle was convincing his head coach.

“I called coach Swinney, because I didn’t want him to hear about it from someone in the NFL or in the media or anybody else,” he said. “That’s just the man I am. I wanted him to hear it from me. Of course, he tried to talk me out of it, and convince me to come back to school, but once he saw my mind was made up, he told me that he supported me all the way.”

Harper said that he is going to stick around Clemson, and if pro teams ask him to work out again – which he has heard they will – he will do those workouts in familiar confines.

“If the lockout happens, they won't be able to fly me to their location,” he said. “But they can come and watch me here and I will be more than happy to work out for them again. I think they’ve been pleased with what they’ve seen – a guy that is 6-2, 230 pounds with speed and the ability to make people miss.”

Harper then said he has another reason for sticking around.

“I am just 20-something hours from getting my degree in communications,” he said. “And if they do have a lockout, and we don’t play, then I will stay here and get my degree. I wanted to get my degree anyway.”

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