UMHB football has a great history of spectacular running backs.
Markeith Miller, Anton Holloway and Bryson Tucker are just a few of the players who have dominated out of the backfield for the Cru since 1998. And a new name may be added to that list in the coming years, as Wade Harper, a Class of 2021 signee, comes to Belton with plenty of talent and maturity. Those two things are likely to earn Harper early playing time, and his leadership skills speak volumes.
During a four-year prep career at Covenant Christian School (TAPPS) in Conroe, Texas, the 6’3, 205 lb Harper amassed over 5,000 rushing yards and 100 touchdowns. During his senior year alone, he tallied over 1880 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Recently, we caught up with Harper to discuss goals, his high school career, what set UMHB apart in the recruiting progress and much more in this edition of “Catching up with the Commits”.
Q: What made UMHB the school for you?
WH: “I really like the size of UMHB and the family aspect. It’s very big in size when it comes to the team but they never have clique groups. They’re all one, they’re a unified team. It made me want to play there. It is a D3 school but it is not a D3 school, when it comes to the level of play and facilities.”
Q: I know your Christian faith is very important to you. Was that also a driving factor in the decision to come to UMHB?
WH: “Definitely. I could tell that the coaching staff loves the Lord and that was a big thing for me, because I don’t want a coaching yelling and cussing at me. I’d rather have a coach who is going to come from a “leadership in Christ” aspect.
Q: As far as your high school career at Covenant Christian, you accomplished so much, including being the first athlete from the school to sign with a college. How surreal was it to make that kind of history?
WH: “It was definitely a big step and it was one that I felt needed to be done. A lot of people say, ‘You’re not going to be able to go anywhere after [playing at Convenant] sports-wise. I want to leave.’ Instead of it pushing me away from sports and Covenant, it drove me to be better. I wanted to be stronger, I wanted to be faster. I just wanted my own success to bring honor and glory to God as well as the school.”
Q: You set a couple of rushing records at Covenant. What can you say about both your rushing and your offensive line?
WH: “I definitely had a great offensive line who worked really hard as well. I made sure to pay them back for every single touchdown. In the newspapers, they would ask me, ‘How’d you do it?’ and I’d give all respect back to [the O-Line]. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Q: This is kind of a tough question, but do you have some goals that you’re setting for yourself at UMHB, whether that be in your first year or looking further ahead to the next two, three, four years?
WH: “I definitely do have goals set. From a young age, our parents had us sit down before every year and write down our goals. For UMHB, I know exactly the goals I have set. That’s first to honor and glorify God and remember why I’m there. I’m there to get an education and play football for a coach. I’m not there to go out and party every single day. I’m there to glorify God. Secondly, in terms of football, the goal I’ve set for myself is just to be a leader. Whether that be running in conditioning, in the weight room, how I respond to things that happen. I should have the most upbeat personality and one that people want to follow.”
Q: You mentioned laying out goals from an early age. How does having specific goals drive you?
WH: “It does [drive me a lot]. Because a lot of mornings, I’ll wake up and see how far I’ve come and what I need to get better in. When you write down your goals, you look at them, you read them, you observe them, you’ll have a much better understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Q: You also were a standout on the basketball court and on the track for Covenant. Being such a versatile athlete, how has playing three sports helped you improve as an all-around athlete?
WH: “Every single day when I play football, I see little things that go with both. There’s the speed aspect in track. [In football], it’s like, ‘There’s a hole, you have to run through it as fast as possible’. The basketball aspect is just the footwork. If you’re taking a hard plant right here, and immediately cut upfield after, [you need to have strong footwork].”
Q: So has football always been your top sport?
WH: “Actually, it definitely wasn’t. In the beginning, it was basketball because I didn’t start playing football until sixth grade. I thought, ‘I really like the sport, I want to go play college basketball.’ But after playing in sixth grade, I fell in love with the game. I think it’s always had my heart since sixth grade.”
Q: What got you interested in playing football?
WH: “What drove me to play was that was the first year our school had 6th grade football. What encouraged me was that my dad had played football at Louisiana Tech University. I remember every single day thinking, ‘I just want to be like my dad.’ I didn’t really want to be an offensive lineman like him, though. I wanted to play wide receiver or quarterback or running back. It’s neat to look back and see how those dreams and plans have come through.”
Q: You’ve talked about how important your faith is to you. Is there a specific Bible verse that really motivates you?
WH: “My favorite verse is Romans 5:8, which says ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ This is my favorite verse because it reminds us how much God loves us, regardless of our sin.”