Cal wide receiver Chris Harper declares for NFL draft, forgoes senior season

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On Tuesday, Cal wide receiver Chris Harper declared for the NFL draft, forgoing his senior season with the Bears. Last season, Harper was near the top for Cal wide receivers in just about all statistical categories. He finished the season with six touchdowns, an average of 12.2 yards a catch and 52.8 yards per game. In his final collegiate game, Harper finished with a season-high 98 yards on eight catches.

His sophomore year, Harper had a career-high 70 receptions for 852 receiving yards — a team best — and five touchdown catches. Those 70 receptions place him seventh on Cal’s all-time single-season list. As a freshman, Harper had 41 catches for 544 yards and two touchdowns, all of which landed him second in the three respective categories on the season.

Harper said in a statement: “After having many talks with my family, mentors and coaches, I have decided that declaring for the NFL draft was best for me at this time. Millions of different thoughts and prayers have been put into this educated decision, which is why I have decided to enter the draft. These past three years have definitely been some of the best and most memorable years of my life with regards to football, my education and the endless relationships that I’ve built with my teammates, coaches, ex-coaches and classmates.

“I love everything that Cal had to offer pertaining to football, education and the great culture of the city of Berkeley. I love all of the die-hard Bear fans that made my experience at Cal unforgettable because of their persistent support towards all of us not only when we won but also when we were at our lowest. I appreciate everything Cal has done for me and the unbreakable bonds that I’ve formed with so many of my teammates and want to give a last thank you to everyone involved in my success.”

Head coach Sonny Dykes also released a statement about Harper’s departure:

“We wish Chris the best in the next chapter of his football career and thank him for the contributions he made to the Cal football program. We look forward to watching his continued success at the next level as he pursues his dream of playing in the NFL and joins a long list of Cal players who have been successful in the league.”

Harper’s loss will certainly hurt the Bears, with quarterback Jared Goff losing a talented wide receiver and a reliable target. But with Goff’s deep receiving corps, Cal will retain an incredibly strong group of receivers as the team looks to improve on the 2014 season.

Shannon Carroll is the sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @scarroll43.