JBB Draft Profile: Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State – A Familiar Face for Carr

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Nov 23, 2013; Fresno, CA, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver Josh Harper (3) catches a touchdown pass against the New Mexico Lobos in the third quarter at Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs defeated the Lobos 69-28. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


Josh Harper, son of former 49er linebacker Willie Harper, is a fifth-year senior wide receiver at Fresno State who played with Derek Carr for three years. In those three years together, Harper caught 138 passes from Carr for 1,841 yards and 22 TD’s. Harper was Carr’s second-favorite target in his memorable 2013 campaign, the two hooked up 79 times for over 1,000 yards and 13 TDs despite Harper missing time at the end of the season. Harper combined with current Packer Devante Adams and current Bronco Isaiah Burse to form the most prolific wide receiver trio in major college football last year, combining for 309 receptions and nearly 3,800 yards. Going into Fresno State’s late-season game at San Jose State, Harper was the second-leading receiver on the team before he was injured early in that game and sidelined the rest of the season.

With Harper gone, Fresno State’s offensive production went down: after throwing six TD passes in the first half of the San Jose State game, Derek Carr didn’t throw one in the second half. Carr completed less than 70% of his passes and threw two INT’s for the first time all year the following week against Utah State, and the entire Fresno State offense just got overwhelmed by USC in the Las Vegas Bowl with Harper out of the lineup. Despite finishing 3rd on his own team in receptions for the season and missing essentially the last three games, Harper was named first team All-Mountain West Conference.

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  • Despite being named to the preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list and coming into the season ranked 5th in career touchdowns among active FBS players, many observers and draft analysts thought Harper would take a step back in production in the absence of Derek Carr. He has turned in a highly productive campaign so far in 2014 as Fresno State’s primary receiver in an offense that relies much more heavily on the run this year than in years prior. Harper has caught 51 passes for 694 yards and 4 TD’s so far, including a 12 reception, 187 yard performance in an overtime loss to UNLV back on October 10th. He has had solid performances against high-level college competition, including 9 receptions against Nebraska and two 6-reception games against USC and Utah. Harper accounts for 36% of Fresno State’s total passing yardage this season (he accounted for nearly 20% in 2013), and has 30 more receptions than the team’s second-leading receiver, yet manages to consistently produce despite drawing the attention of every defensive coordinator the Bulldogs have faced this year.