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Harper signs with Carson-Newman

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By The Staff

By GOOSE LINDSAY

Roane Newspapers

There's never been any doubt that Oliver Springs all-state lineman Tyler Harper would play college football and Harper made it official recently as he signed scholarship papers with Division II power Carson-Newman College.

“I'm very happy,” Harper said of signing with the Eagles. “This is a dream come true. Ever since I started playing football I've dreamed of playing college football. I'm also happy that Carson-Newman is a Christian school and coach (Ken) Sparks is a very good man. That played a lot in my decision to go there.”

“I'm proud of him, the school's proud of him and this community is proud of him,” Oliver Springs head coach Wiley Brackett added. “I know it's been his goal to play college football and signing a letter-of-intent with Carson-Newman is a big deal.”

The first thing people notice about Harper is his size (6'7”, 310 pounds), but “Biggs”, as he is called by his coaches and teammates, is an excellent athlete for a player of his size.

“He's the first all-state kid I've had since I've been here and a lot of it has to do with his size, but he also is a good athlete,” Brackett said. “He has great footwork for a guy weighing 310 pounds Playing basketball really helped Biggs and I know they (Carson-Newman) were impressed with how well he moves.”

Intelligence and versatility is another thing going for Harper. During his career at Oliver Springs, Harper has played all five offensive line positions and he even did it once during a five-play stretch as a sophomore.

“I think coaches like the physicalness I play with, but I think they like that I can play anywhere,” Harper said. “I remember against Alcoa my sophomore year that I played all five positions on the line in five straight plays. It's always good to know different positions in case of injuries.”

While Harper was a man amongst boys playing at Oliver Springs, the shoe will be on the other foot this fall and how fast he adjusts to playing guys his own size will determine how fast he gets on the field.

“It's going to be a big adjustment for him,” Brackett said. “He's a 17-year-old kid that will be going up against 21 and 22-year-old men. It's going to be like the adjustment from going to middle school to high school, but he handled that pretty well.”

Harper, however, isn't shying away from the challenge, instead he's looking forward to it.

“I've always been a standout wherever I've been, but now it's going to be a challenge,” Harper said. “I want to prove to people that I can dominate people my own size instead of being the bigger guy most of the time.”

Harper knows if he wants to dominate at the college level that it's going to take a lot of work and he's ready to get started.

“To be good at this level I know I've got to work on everything,” he said. “I can't be satisfied. I've got to continue working to get stronger and quicker.”

“I think the thing he really needs to work on is his strength,” Brackett added. “He's got to get in the weight room and strengthen up, but I think he has all the other tools to be successful. I expect him to do well.”