Nicario Harper wasn’t completely satisfied with the feedback he’d received.
After two seasons at Jacksonville State, Harper was able to take the following step and to enter the 2022 NFL draft.
The one problem? Scouts weren’t sold on him.
He was told they desired to see him in coverage more and to work on his hips. Harper, who had a stint at Southern Miss before Jacksonville State, was open to what he’d been told even when he wasn’t thrilled to listen to it.
“They simply really see me as a physical player, as a downhill thumper,” the 2021 Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the 12 months said, “and I would like to give you the chance to indicate my versatility more.”
As an alternative of staying at Jacksonville State, he moved back as much as the FBS level and transferred to Louisville, where he’s been given the possibility to indicate off his versatility. During fall camp, the Cardinals repped Harper at multiple spots, including the CARD linebacker, free safety and nickelback positions.
Harper is considered one of six transfers, out of 13 total that joined the roster throughout the offseason, that coach Scott Satterfield’s staff brought in to bolster a secondary that gave up the fourth-most passing yards within the ACC (3,193 yards) and 20 touchdowns (tenth).
The majority of Harper’s experience as a Gamecock was at safety where he tallied 54 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery along with being a Buck Buchanon Award finalist, given to the highest safety in FCS, in his final season. That’s not all he has to supply, though, and the Georgia native welcomes the chance to display more of his capabilities this season.
“Quite a lot of people just think I’m only a physical guy, but I would like to indicate also I can cover,” he said. “I can move around. I can blitz. I can play up top. I can play in a box. I can do all the pieces. That is the form of player I feel like I’m, so I would like to I’m glad I got the chance to indicate that this season.”
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Harper is an element of a secondary he feels may very well be among the finest within the nation due to its depth while also expanding his game working with Ben Perry and Marvin Dallas at linebacker. Given its importance to the team’s defense, Harper believes CARD is an excellent fit for him.
“The CARD position on the defense is just about, you’re physical, you cover the road of scrimmage loads,” he said. “You may not make all of the splash plays. Your team’s got to give you the chance to trust you at that position since you’re getting everybody lined up, and also you’re leveraging all the pieces and you’ve got a responsibility on every play. That CARD position is an important piece to this puzzle that we now have right away at Louisville.”
Cardinals cornerback Jarvis Brownlee had heard of Harper when he was at Florida State and the latter was a Gamecock, but they didn’t know one another personally. Once they got to Louisville this yr, they began to form a relationship during automotive rides to practices.
Brownlee speaks highly of Harper’s work ethic, though sometimes he has to remind his teammate to take a break and never do an excessive amount of. Still, there’s no denying Harper’s desire to diversify his game and improve his draft stock.
“One thing about him, you are at all times going to see him across the ball,” Brownlee said. “Not (only) if he’s making a tackle, you are going to see 21 across the ball and that is just how he plays. … It’s hard to take a child like that off the sphere. I feel like if we now have 10 more guys which have that very same mentality, nobody can compete with us on that form of level.”