Former Utah CB Shaun Harper Describes His Time With Utes As ‘Successful’

Jul 26, 2020, 6:21 PM
(Photo courtesy of Tom Smart, Deseret News)...
(Photo courtesy of Tom Smart, Deseret News)
(Photo courtesy of Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah cornerback Shaun Harper was a part of some successful Utes teams during his time at the University of Utah.

Harper played for the Utes from 2002-05.

After being recruited by Ron McBride in 2001, Harper played for coach Mac, Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham. He summed up his college career in one word.

“Successful,” Harper told KSL Sports. “I was able and was blessed to be able to play a bowl game every single year I played up there. There’s not a lot of kids, there’s not a lot of athletes that have been a part of programs who haven’t even gone to one. So, for me to go to four bowl games, four big bowl games, huge, obviously, you know, being a part of the 2004 Fiesta Bowl, BCS busters. It was the best time of my life. I don’t regret a single thing about deciding to come to Utah and play for Utes.”

The Crimson Corner is catching up with former Utah athletes to see what they are doing in life after their playing career.

Listen to Shaun Harper’s full interview on the Crimson Corner podcast, below.

How He Ended Up At Utah

Harper is from San Diego, California. He was interested in joining Utah when Ron McBride went to San Diego to recruit Harper.

“I remember back in 2001 when Ron McBride came into my living room in San Diego, California, and I’ll never forget that moment,” Harper said. “I’ll never forget that time. Coach McBride is just one of those guys that you just genuinely love, he is just so authentic. He’s such a people’s person. So, I took my official  visit up here to Salt Lake and I just fell in love with the place and I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

During that time, he played for three great coaches in his college career. He was also a part of the 2004 Utah team that went undefeated and won the Fiesta Bowl, becoming the first non-BCS school to win a BCS bowl game.

“What I can say just overall, I was very blessed to be a part of such great teams, from coach McBride which I redshirted my first year so there wasn’t a whole lot there but after coach (Urban) Meyer came in, it was amazing. We you know, won the Fiesta Bowl, obviously, the 2004 season and I know the Cal game that year, the Oregon game that we played when I was when I was a redshirt freshman,” Harper said. “There was a lot of great wins, we had a lot of great wins in that time and even with  Coach (Kyle) Whittingham, we were able to win a lot of games, we were able to go to a bowl game every year that I played. I was just very blessed to be able to just play for such legendary, iconic coaches.”

Short Time With Urban Meyer

Harper had the opportunity to play two seasons under Urban Meyer. He explained the impact that Meyer had on Utah’s football program in just two short years.

“He changed it. He completely changed the program forever, he really set a bar, he set the highest bar for us to succeed and there was a blueprint and the way he did things very methodical, his coaching style, just everything, he changed the mentality of the program. Utah was always known as, you know, hard, tough nosed defense, just always had that. I think he was able to, just as far as the mindset as far as understanding and getting his players to understand that we worked hard enough that we’d be successful. That’s kind of the mindset that you have to have, to be successful in college football. There’s a dedication, there’s a discipline, there’s a commitment, there’s all those things that are ingredients to being successful. I think coach Whitt, he already had that ingrained in him as well. So when he took over, it was basically like clockwork really.”

After his college career was over, Harper spent a decade working in the medical field. He started getting into coaching when a Utah alum asked Harper to coach the defensive backs at Corner Canyon High School. Two years later, he accepted a position as cornerbacks coach for Weber State.

Coaching At Weber State

Harper just finished his first season as a college football coach and his first year with Weber State. He is enjoying his time working under current Wildcats head coach Jay Hill.

“Jay Hill is amazing. He’s an amazing coach. He’s an amazing teacher, is a great leader just everything that a coach should embody, that’s what Jay Hill does, and he’s just so very personable. He’s there for you, he cares. He’s very particular, very detailed. He’s just another coach along the lines of coming from the coach Whitt and coach Meyer umbrella. He’s just one of those other great coaches that has instilled toughness, a blue collar mentality. He demands a lot out of his players and coaches. It’s been an unbelievable experience. I could have never imagined this, I would have never imagined me being in the college ranks and actually coaching so I’m super excited. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The Wildcats reached the national semifinals of the FCS playoffs last season. This season, Weber State has expectations of winning a national championship.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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