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ODU freshman receiver takes good with bad
For Angus Harper, the glass was half-empty in his first college football game.
Harper failed to throw a block that could have sprung teammate Antonio Vaughan on what could have been a 62-yard touchdown reception. He also came up short when given the ball on fourth-and-1. And he dropped an easy pass.
Then again, half empty means half full, too.
Harper ran for an 11-yard touchdown. He caught a team-high seven passes for 58 yards. And, finally, he got onto the field and into a real, live, college football game - one which Old Dominion won, 41-14, over visiting Campbell University in front of 19,818 at Foreman Field.
“We have a saying in our locker room,” said Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder. “If you think you played well, don’t go falling in love with yourself.
“I don’t think Angus is falling in love with himself by any means. But at the same time I don’t want him to be too hard on himself.
“I think, all in all, he played pretty well. We challenged him in two areas: Don’t turn the ball over and protect your quarterback.”
Harper, a redshirt freshman, is just happy to say he played. It had been a long time between games.
Twenty months ago, Harper took a surprising leap of faith and graduated from Edison High in Alexandria one semester early. He wanted to get his college playing career started; taking spring classes meant going through spring drills with the Monarchs. The plan was to play as a true freshman.
Then his knee started hurting.
“I really don’t even know when or how it really happened,” said Harper, a 6-foot, 210-pounder who sports a shock of dreadlocks. “But we were having one of our last scrimmages and as I came to the sidelines coach (Brian) Scott said, ‘Angus, why are you limping?’ “
Harper didn’t even know he’d hurt himself. Turned out he wasn’t just hurt, he had a torn meniscus in his right knee and required surgery.
So much for playing as a true freshman. Instead, he watched from the sidelines as Mario Crawford and Colby Goodwyn got the majority of the work at running back.
“The first couple of games were tough to watch from the sidelines,” Harper said. “But a setback is just a setup for a comeback.”
Healthy and ready to go this season, Harper found himself No. 1 on the depth chart when Crawford and Goodwyn were injured.
Goodwyn, who battled a bruised heel in preseason, is expected to play today when the Monarchs visit Georgia State (noon, Cox Channel 11). But Crawford is lost for the year after fracturing the C1 vertebrae in his neck.
Last Saturday, Harper played with Crawford’s No. 25written on his taped wrists.
“Mario’s the best and I feel badly for him,” Harper said. “We were roommates when I first got here. I know that players who play the same position might not always have that good feeling about that teammate, but that’s not how it is with Mario and me.”
As for correcting the things he did wrong, Harper was on it almost immediately.
“I dropped that pass because my hand was cramping,” he said. “But the other things I can do something about. The next time Antonio Vaughan or any of our receivers break into the open, you better believe I’ll be looking around for someone to block.
“And the next time I get the ball on fourth-and-1, I’ll get that yard.”
Wilder said it was just a matter of experience, or lack thereof.
“It was his first college game,” Wilder said. “It was his first time playing in front of 20,000 people. We talked about the fourth-and-1 and I explained to him that when the hole isn’t there, you have to make your own hole or just go up and over the pile. Experience is invaluable. I’m sure next time he’ll find a way.”
Old Dominion (1-0) at Georgia State (1-0)
Time, TV noon, Cox Channel 11
Radio 94.1 FM
About Old Dominion The Monarchs come in with a six-game winning streak that began midway through last season with a 34-20 victory over … Georgia State. ODU is coming off a 41-14 victory over Campbell University. This is the second of three nonconference games for the Monarchs, who are playing their first season as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. They return to Foreman Field on Sept. 17 to host Hampton University.
About Georgia State The Panthers are in their second year of play and will join the CAA next season. They opened the year with a 41-7 victory over Division II Clark of Atlanta. Georgia State is coached by former Alabama, Georgia Tech and Kentucky head coach Bill Curry. Running back Donald Russell, who ran for two touchdowns a week ago, is a transfer from Kentucky.
By Rich Radford, The Virginian-Pilot