Plenty of prospects, some of them high-profile, others under-the-radar, have come and gone in the past decade or so, since the inception of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl. Still, the talent level across the board on the national scene has been about as good as it gets.
Things don’t figure to change anytime soon, as the hype continues to build for this year’s games: Dec. 16 and Jan. 20 at Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, Jan. 6 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium and Jan. 13 at Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes Benz Stadium.
To gain a better understanding about the rapidly growing direction of things, perhaps now it’s best to take some time to reflect on the humble beginnings. Therefore, moving forward, the plan is to more closely examine the brand’s many alumni from all over the country.
The focus this time around is Madre Harper from Arlington Lamar (TX). As a member of the Class of 2016, he was in the running for the Defensive MVP honor and finished with eight tackles, also two pass deflections, as West defeated East, 21-14, at AT&T Stadium.
It was a sign of good things to come. Always destined to play on Saturdays, Harper is doing just that. The 6-foot-3 and 190-pound senior defensive back will line up for Southern Illinois against UT Martin on Sept. 14 in a nonconference game at 12 a.m. (EST).
In the season-opener, Harper finished with eight tackles, seven solo stops and one for a loss in a 44-26 nonconference loss to Southeast Missouri. Seven days later, he ended up with four tackles and an interception in a 45-20 nonconference victory over UMass.
The contributions should come as little, or no surprise. Last year, Harper made an immediate impact and played in 10 games, five as a starter with 46 tackles for the Salukis in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Tough to argue with that type of production.
Remember, he committed to Oklahoma State after the brand’s All-American Bowl in Texas, before landing in Carbondale (IL). Next stop could be the NFL Scouting Combine, or the NFL Draft, or the undrafted free agent route. Regardless, the journey continues.