Feeling At Home

J. C. Harper

With his dad both playing and coaching under Bear Bryant, J.C. Harper has been around the game of football all his life. We caught up with him to find out how his experience as the Bronco's defensive line coach has gone early on this spring.

How did you first hear of the job opening here at Western?
Coach Darnell contacted me after coach Tall left to West Virginia. I have been a defensive coordinator at two Division I-AA schools and I felt like this was a great opportunity for me. Coach Bumpas is a wonderful person and I can learn from him on getting better and I also think working for Gary Darnell is a great opportunity.

You were here once before in the offseason and left. Did that help you decide on Western Michigan this time around?
Yes, I was here a few years back and left a defensive line job at McNeese State and came here to coach the defensive line in December. Around April the defensive coordinator left McNeese State so they asked me back to fill that spot and I was comfortable with the personnel and team so I went back. I think knowing what Western is like did help. Even though I was here only four months I kept up with Western and how they were doing. I've worked with coaches Darnell, Bumpas and Cordelli at other colleges so I have a very homey feeling here.

What are your impressions early on?
The facilities are impressive and the atmosphere here gives us the opportunity to recruit better players and also coach them better. I really wanted to give Division I-A a shot and it has been great thus far.

You have worked in the 4-2-5 defense previously correct?
Yes, I've worked with it the past five years so I know all of the terminology. Last season we accounted for 43 sacks and 110 tackles for loss.

What are your primary goals for this group in the spring?
I want to develop chemistry, bonds and repore with the group I have. We'll also want to build depth. I just want to get a good feel with the players. Chemistry is critical for a team and finding that will be important for us this spring.

Have you been pleased with the defensive line early on this spring?
Yes, they have shown a great attitude and a lot of effort and tenaciousness thus far and I'm happy to see that.

Are you starting to get a grasp of the personnel you have in your group?
Yes, I've been impressed with Jason Babin and Jack Gitler from day one. I think House [Hausia Faleofa] really fits in well with our system. Nick Melcher also does a real good job. I've been really pleased with Ernest Osborne's work ethic as well.

Can Bronco fans expect any new wrinkles from the defensive front this season?
Yes, I think that we need to find as many ways to get Jason Babin involved as possible. He won't be here this time next year so we need to take advantage of how good he is and allow him to make plays. There will be a lot of new things I ask of Jason for this season and it will be up to Jason to see what he can learn. Teams are going to be aware of his every move so we need to have some things ready so that they cannot neutralize him in the game.

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