'My chance now': How Oklahoma State's Devin Harper is looking to make most of starting chance

Jacob Unruh

STILLWATER — Devin Harper understands patience.

Entering his sixth season at Oklahoma State, he’s played in 45 games, starting just a trio of games. He’s battled injuries, even playing through a hand injury with a cast in 2019.

Harper has never been the star linebacker. Justin Phillips and Amen Ogbongbemiga drew the spotlight.

Not anymore. It’s finally Harper’s turn.

He’s the starter. He’s got the expectations.

“It’s been a process,” Harper said. “Everybody’s time is not going to be at the same time. I’ve just been waiting it out. They waited on me and basically gave me my time, my chance now and I've just got to make the best of it.”

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With the season quickly approaching, Harper is taking the next step in his long, winding journey with the Cowboys. The Knoxville, Tennessee, product waited his turn and is primed to build an even better future.

And he has a lot of confidence entering the season.

Harper is familiar with defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ system. Harper has made big plays — he helped preserve a win over Boise State in 2018 with a sack and forced fumble — and he’s been reliable with 120 total tackles in his career.

Oklahoma State linebacker Devin Harper (16) intercepts a pass intended for Kansas wide receiver Takulve Williams (16) during the first half of a 47-7 win at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Lawrence in 2020.

“It helps a lot knowing I can make plays,” Harper said. “At the end of the day, I’ve still gotta go out there and perform even better now.”

Harper still feels like a bit of an unknown for a veteran defense.

That excites Knowles, who has watched Harper grow for three seasons and feels he is in line for a breakout season.

“Devin is one of the most complete athletes that I’ve been around,” Knowles said. “He’s had some people in front of thim, he’s had some injuries but Devin has NFL numbers. He has all the markings of an NFL player in terms of height, weight, size, all the metrics and his speed is fantastic.

“He just needs to step up and have a great year. But I’m totally confident. He’s going to cut it loose this year and he’s going to have a great year.”

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Under Knowles, OSU’s linebackers have been stout.

Fifth-year senior Malcolm Rodriguez returns alongside Harper. Rodriguez’s transition two seasons ago from safety to linebacker has been nearly flawless. He’s added weight and an extra year of eligibility could help solidify his professional prospects.

But the Cowboys have little experience behind Harper and Rodriguez.

Knowles has been impressed with sophomore Mason Cobb and junior college transfer Lamont  Bishop. Kamryn Farrar, who is undersized at 5-feet-11 and 205 pounds, has also earned time with his tenacity.

“It gives me kind of a sigh of relief,” Knowles said. “We’ve got two guys that are really coming on. And then the other guy is Kam. So, Kam Farrar is smaller, but he’s quick and he’s explosive. The light bulb just seems to be coming on for him.

“I’m really impressed with that next group.”

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OSU linebacker depth chart

Name, Class, Height, Weight, Hometown (Previous school)


Malcolm Rodriguez, Sr., 5-11, 235, Wagoner (Wagoner HS)

Devin Harper, RSr., 6-0, 235, Knoxville, Tennessee (Karns HS)


Mason Cobb, So., 6-0, 230, Provo, Utah (Provo HS)

Lamont Bishop, RJr., 6-2, 230, Country Club Hills, Illinois (Iowa Central CC)

Kamryn Farrar, RSo, 5-11, 205, Dallas (Skyline HS)

Jacob Unruh covers college sports for The Oklahoman. You can send your story ideas to him at or on Twitter at @jacobunruh. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.