Versatility was his strength


Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 11:04 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 11:04 a.m.

Position: Running back

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Years he played: 1964-66

Top 100 credentials: He didn't put up big numbers and his name may be hard to find in the UF record book, but Harper was one of the best, most versatile offensive players during the successful Steve Spurrier playing era.

He played a key role in some of the biggest wins in the program's history.

How he shined: His versatility was his strength.

He was a talented and elusive runner, but where he really shined was as a receiver coming out of the backfield.

Harper possessed sure hands and had a knack for getting open and making plays in the passing game.

Making his mark: Harper was on the receiving end of one of Spurrier's most

memorable touchdown passes at Florida.

Trailing Georgia 10-7 late in the 1965 game in Jacksonville, Spurrier lofted a pass down the right sideline that Harper caught falling backward into the end zone for the game-winning 19-yard score.

Harper also caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Spurrier in the 1966 Sugar Bowl, a game the Gators lost 20-18 after failing on three two-point attempts after touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

No. 93 - FLORIDA 34, FSU 7
Nov. 26, 2005
Where: Florida Field What happened: Two weeks after a devastating loss to South Carolina and Steve Spurrier knocked the Gators out of the race for the SEC East, they hammered Florida State by forcing four turnovers and hitting big plays. Florida led 34-0 before FSU scored a meaningless late touchdown. Who was the hero: While there were plenty of contributors, the biggest play came when Marcus Thomas blocked a Florida State field goal with UF leading 7-0 in the second quarter. Reggie Lewis caught the ball on a big bounce and ran 52 yards for a score and that was your ball game. Why it mattered: One day you may look back at it as the game that turned things around in Urban Meyer's Gator career. Certainly, it had an enormous effect on recruiting. After that loss in Columbia, it pushed fans onto the Meyer bandwagon and sent the Gators sailing into bowl preparations. And, of course, it was a beatdown of the Seminoles.

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