H.S. FOOTBALL | Waggener's Harper Offered Preferred Walk-On At UK

09/05/2017 12:59 PM

Wagganer Traditional High’s senior wide receiver Manny Harper has been catching passes all season, but last week, he caught an offer to walk-on at Kentucky.

“While I was up there, Coach [John] Schlarman, he really showed me a lot of love when I was up there,” Harper told KSTV. “Everyone was really nice. I just liked Kentucky when I was up there. It was a really nice environment to be around and the facilities were outstanding and I was really impressed.”

Harper has a full academic scholarship to UK if he chooses to take it. He said the academic side of choosing a school is really important to him. He got a taste of the student-athlete life this summer at Governor’s Scholar. There, he was taking classes at Murray State, but working out in his spare time to stay in shape.

“You had to kind of get used to the schedule and you know, the grind started early in the morning,” Harper explained. “I would workout before my classes and then go to my classes and eat lunch, then have another class then work out so my day was just full of classes and working out, but you know, you had to do it to stay in shape so I could come back and play and still be the player that I am.”

To some that sounds exhausting, but Harper said he enjoyed the grind.

“Some people wouldn’t like that, but I actually had a really good time and that’s something that I want to do. Like waking up, it’s just something to look forward to. Waking up knowing that you have practice, knowing that you have homework due and it’s just something to keep you busy.”

Harper said he doesn’t care if he takes an academic scholarship or one for football, as long as he is working toward a career in forensic science and playing football on Saturdays.

“As long as college gets paid for, that’s the ultimate goal out of it,” Harper said. “My grades are always going to be up so if it comes down to it, you know, football and an academic scholarship would be fine.”

As for potentially walking on, he likes the challenge of having to compete.

“My view on the walk on thing is once we get to college, I’m going to compete and take what I want and that’s how I look at it. So it doesn’t matter if I’m a walk on and you’re a five-star. I’m still going to come at you the same way,” Harper added.

He said he got some advice from another Louisville guy who happened to be a former Kentucky walk-on-turned-scholarship player; senior wide receiver Charles Walker.

“He just told me to keep grinding and he’ll see me at the top.”

Harper has a 4.2 GPA and he’s a two-star athlete, but he wants whichever school he chooses to know that he has a five-star work ethic.

Watch Harper’s full story below:


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