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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame DB Thomas Harper Diving Into Film, Leadership & Rehab

February 13, 2023
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Notre Dame’s secondary saw young players flash and veterans decide to return for one final run following the 2022 campaign. Yet, the Fighting Irish needed to add some depth and they found it in Oklahoma State graduate transfer Thomas Harper. 

The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder brings experience and production to Notre Dame as Harper recorded 93 tackles in 36 games for Mike Gundy’s Cowboys.

Where does he fit in at Notre Dame? Well, it’s still a bit to be determined as Harper works his way back from labrum surgery in November, but expect the Irish staff to use him at safety and nickel. 

“My footwork and coverage ability is good enough to play nickel,” stated Harper. “I came in as a corner out of high school, having that background and the way I play, I play more like a free safety. I like to look at the quarterback and go make plays on the ball. Coming in as a corner helped me and allowed me to play both.” 

Nickel could be the most natural fit on paper as Notre Dame is looking to replace TaRiq Bracy, who turned into an extremely consistent player over the last two seasons. Harper has wasted little time diving into Bracy’s film as he learns the defense, while also seeing the role he could have in the fall. 

“He made a lot of plays,” explained Harper. “The one that stood out the most was a sack vs Clemson. That was a big play and I watched that game multiple times and that was a huge play. 

Al Golden’s defense will bring pressure from several areas of the field, which includes the nickel and dime roles. Ramon Henderson, Xavier Watts and Bracy all registered a year ago and that has Harper intrigued. 

“I don't think I have really been able to show that in the past at Oklahoma State,” Harper said of blitzing. “I was more of a cover guy and a run-fitter. Being able to blitz and play some free safety. That's what stood out to me.” 

As for the labrum injury, Harper didn’t disclose a timeline for getting cleared, but he’s pleased with his decision to take care of it in the fall. 

“I got it fixed and just hitting the recovery hard,” Harper explained. “I realized there was an issue in the Baylor Game. I played two or three more games. I felt like it was in my best interest to get surgery, get it done for my health and safety.” 

Outside of Xs and Os, Harper was intrigued by Notre Dame’s 2023 schedule when making his decision. The ability to play in big games while playing in electric atmospheres made the decision an easy one. 

“That was a big thing going into the portal,” stated Harper. “I wanted to show my abilities against different competition given I have been in the Big 12 for four years. I wanted to show some abilities against different competition and Notre Dame's schedule is all over the place. Big Ten, Pac 12, ACC - you get a dose of everything.” 

Harper is also one who keeps to himself and reading is something he’s taken up during his college years. 

“I like to read,” Harper said. “Got back into reading these past couple of years. Self-help books. Couple fiction, storytelling books now and then. I read pretty often.” 

The Servant is at the top of his list as it was a suggestion from his brother, Devin, who is a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. 

“It talks about being a leader and to lead, you have to serve,” said Harper. “That opened my eyes to leadership and something I never heard before. It was talking about every great leader serves somebody. It's a difference between being a power figure bossing people around versus having authority with someone and being someone they look up to actually leading them.” 

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