FROSTBURG - After a successful career at Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg, a stellar four-years of play as a Mountaineer at West Virginia University, and even a brief stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League, Jarrod Harper had reached the pinnacle of gridiron success, with nothing left to prove.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
FROSTBURG - After a successful career at Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg, a stellar four-years of play as a Mountaineer at West Virginia University, and even a brief stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League, Jarrod Harper had reached the pinnacle of gridiron success, with nothing left to prove.
Though he was pursuing other ventures, in his mind, the game kept calling him back, so too did West Virginia University.
On Tuesday, July 14, Harper announced that he had finally answered the call to return to both the game and WVU in the capacity of a graduate assistant defensive back’s coach. This means a coaching position. This also means Harper is once again a student enrolled at the university.
In his own words, Harper announced the exciting news first on Facebook with the following post:
“Excited to announce that I’ll be returning back to West Virginia this fall as a graduate assistant coaching the DB’s and pursuing my Masters in Sports Management. I want to thank Coach Brown for giving me the opportunity to return back to my alma mater to start my coaching career. I always said when I hung the cleats up I wanted to coach, and there’s no other place I’d rather begin my coaching career then back in the old Gold and Blue!”
On Thursday, we had the opportunity to chat with Harper and he relayed his excitement at going back to Morgantown and beginning his dream career in coaching.
“It feels great to be back at my alma mater. There’s no other place I’d rather be then back at West Virginia starting my coaching career and pursuing my masters degree.”
Harper additionally expressed his appreciation for the opportunity granted to him by Mountaineer head coach Neal Brown, and the excitement associated with joining the Brown-led coaching staff.
“Well first things first I want to thank Coach Brown and his staff for giving me the opportunity to come back and start my coaching career. Coach Brown has a great resume and has won a lot of ball games in his career,” Harper stated. “You look at the things he was able to do at Troy and beating teams like LSU and you can’t help but get excited for what’s to come in Morgantown. Once a Mountaineer, always A Mountaineer!”
How did the opportunity arise?
According to Harper, “I’ve expressed interest to the right people in the past that I wanted to coach after I was finished with my playing career. I can tell you that it has been a process, but I feel that my resume and being a former player, and having a little luck on my side, definitely helped.”
What are Harper’s specific plans?
“As far as my degree that I’m pursuing in sports management, ultimately I want to coach. My goals are to work my way up through the coaching ranks by being a position coach, and then a defensive coordinator and one day a head coach at a major division one program.”
A Frostburg native, Jarrod Harper initially made a name for himself on the gridiron as a three-year starter playing both ways at Mountain Ridge High School in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. Harper was accomplished on both sides of the ball, An explosive, big-play talent on offense, Harper excelled even more on defense, and was named the Area Defensive Player of the Year in his senior season of 2011.
Harper helped lead the Miners to back-to-back nine-win seasons his junior and senior years, and along the way, drew the attention of the West Virginia Mountaineers. While not an in-state talent, Harper hailing from Frostburg in Western Maryland, less than an hour drive from Morgantown, meant that he was still essentially home-grown talent literally right under West Virginia’s nose.
On Feb. 1, 2012, Harper signed his letter of intent to become a Mountaineer. On June 9, 2012, Harper officially enrolled at West Virginia. The rest, as they say, is history.
In four years of play as a defensive back for the Mountaineers (20013-2016), Harper tallied 130 total tackles, 98 solo and 32 assisted. He saved the best for last, as 71 of those tackles came in his senior season. His play on the field and excellence in academics and community service garnered Harper the prestigious Curtis Jones Jr. Award.
Despite battling injuries at WVU that resulted in two shoulder surgeries, Harper was primed for a shot at playing in the National Football League. Harper had a workout with the Baltimore Ravens and then attended a two-day rookie camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After the rookie camp, Harper was signed to a free agent contract by the Jaguars.
Harper saw pre-season action with the Jaguars but unfortunately sustained a concussion in the pre-season finale. While his NFL career may have been halted, Harper had proven his ability to play among the best of the best and at the highest level of his sport.
With an impressive playing and scholastic career on his resume, Harper’s return to Morgantown sparks memories from his time as a Mountaineer player and leaves him desiring to see those in his charge have the same success and develop similar memories.
“My favorite memory at WVU is probably my senior year. We had a real close-knit group of seniors and we had a good senior season and went out and won 10 games. The first time West Virginia had a 10-win season since entering the Big 12,” Harper stated.
According to Harper, “What I want to see happen while I’m there this time is for West Virginia to win a Big 12 championship and there’s no doubt in my mind that we have the right coach to lead the way! I’m looking forward to the bright future that is on the horizon for West Virginia football and I can’t wait to contribute to the future success of the program.”
Jarrod Harper has proven himself to be a winner at every level, both on the field and in the classroom. He now returns to both, though this time around, his work on the field will come as a coach on the sidelines. If Harper’s successes of the past are indicative of his future success, no doubt he’ll ultimately achieve his coaching goals as well.