DARMSTADT, Germany —Wiesbaden senior Terrell Harper will continue his athletic career in a place he’s never been and in a sport he didn’t think was his strongest.
"I’ve never been to Kansas," Harper said Thursday about his recent acceptance of a football-academic scholarship package to the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan. "I thought if I got a scholarship, it would be in basketball. I didn’t start playing football until the 10th grade."
Starting out as a wide receiver-defensive back with a high-powered Hanau squad that won the European D-II title, the 6-foot, 155-pound Harper concluded his career as an All-Europe quarterback for the Wiesbaden Warriors, completing 60 percent of his 55 pass attempts for 711 yards and 10 TDs.
Harper became the second member of the Warrior backfield to parlay his football skills into a college scholarship. Running back Ronald Peebles signed a letter of intent to play for NCAA Division II Elizabeth City State of North Carolina earlier this spring.
And as with Peebles’ experience, it was the player’s father who took on the task of matching his son to one of the hundreds of stateside athletic programs. Harper’s father, Darrold, first sergeant of the 596th Maintenance Company, recalled the laborious process.
"I sent out dozens of recruiting packets on Terrell," he said. "I heard from Saint Mary, the very next day."
The elder Harper said he is still hearing from schools, but that the family decided to take the offer from Saint Mary, an NAIA school in Kansas.
"Saint Mary made the most solid offer," the father said, adding, "I heard from the cornerbacks coach at Hawaii the other day. I wish I had started a year earlier. If I had started his junior year, I think Terrell would have had an offer from a Division I or Division II school."
That level of football might still be possible, though.
"I think once Terrell plays a year or two," the elder Harper said, "he might be able to move up."
Terrell will get his first look at northeastern Kansas on Aug. 15, when he reports to practice. Until then, he’ll busy himself with the family’s change of station move to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., and following his coach’s training program.
"It’s pretty standard, working on arms and legs" said the soon-to-be-college cornerback who was selected as Wiesbaden’s athlete of the year.
But what about that other game, the one Harper prefers and the one he used to think was the key to his athletic future?
Harper, who was All-European in basketball, too, is keeping that option open. He’ll play basketball if he gets the chance.
"We’ll see what happens," he said.