'Jack's RB coach to attend annual Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching program
Football stadium will have a new look with addition of Hellas Matrix Turf
SFA coaching staff takes a close look at reserves
NFL scouts will be in Nacogdoches March 25, 2013
NFL scouts will be in Nacogdoches March 25, 2013
Entering his eighth season with the Lumberjack football program, J.C. Harper is in his sixth season as Stephen F. Austin's head coach. During Harper's short time at the helm, SFA has risen to a level never before witnessed in program history. The Lumberjacks hold the Southland Conference's best record over the course of the past three seasons, a stretch which includes back-to-back SLC titles, two top-10 finishes and consecutive trips to the NCAA playoffs. The two-time SLC Coach of the Year is already the sixth all-time winningest coach in program history.
Following a 1-5 start in 2011, the Lumberjacks rallied behind Harper's leadership as SFA closed out the season winning their final five games of the year. SFA led the nation in sacks, tackles for losses and pass protection, and had 21 players receive all-conference recognition, including three first-team selections. In addition to the all-conference honors, SFA also had 13 All-America selections.
The Lumberjacks won their second-straight conference title in 2010 by posting a 9-3 (.750) overall record in 2010. It marked the first time in conference history that SFA had won back-to-back conference titles. The 'Jacks recorded their second-straight top-10 ranking, and advanced to the NCAA FCS playoffs for a second consecutive season where they hosted Villanova. It was also the second-straight year that SFA led the nation in passing.
SFA dominated the All-SLC teams, placing a league-best 21 players on the all-conference squad, including nine first-team selections. Among the nine first teamers, five earned All-America honors. Following the season SLC Player of the Year Jeremy Moses was named the 2010 Walter Payton Award winner, becoming the first player in school and conference history to receive the award, following a campaign that saw him become the conference's all-time leading quarterback and set a new NCAA FCS record for completions.
The 2010 SLC Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker Jabara Williams, became the second Lumberjack during a three-year stretch to be drafted. He was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL draft. SFA has had at least one player get drafted or sign an NFL free agent contract in each of the past four seasons.
All of this coming on the heels of a 2009 season that saw the program's first conference title in 10 years, a berth in the NCAA FCS playoffs and a top-10 national ranking. It was the second-biggest single-season turnaround at the NCAA FCS level, and the fourth-best turnaround at the NCAA Division I level.
Following the '09 campaign, Harper was recognized for his efforts being named the SLC Coach of the Year, and finishing second by only two points for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award.
It was the first time in 10 years a Lumberjack squad had earned the SLC Championship trophy, and it was the program's first trip to the FCS playoffs since the 1995 season. Harper led SFA to double-digit wins for only the fourth time in school history, and the first time since its playoff run during the 1995 campaign. Throughout the course of the record-setting 2009 campaign, the 'Jacks recorded victories over three nationally ranked opponents, including two among the nation's top 10.
The 2009 campaign saw 20 Lumberjacks named to the All-SLC teams, including five first-team selections. Along with the all-conference teams, quarterback Jeremy Moses was named SLC Player of the Year, defensive end Tim Knicky was named defensive player of the year and corner back Andre Banks received newcomer of the year honors. The accolades didn't stop at the conference level. Twelve Lumberjacks earned All-America recognition, including five first-team selections.
Harper made wholesale changes to the offense and defense following the 2007 season and it didn't take fans long to notice the difference. Harper revitalized the program with a new-look offense, along with a new offensive and defensive coordinator. The changes were exactly what the doctor ordered. SFA improved by four games in the win column, the offense recorded several SFA, SLC and NCAA records while several 'Jacks garnered national attention for their efforts on the field.
Harper's athletes have reaped the benefits of his time as head coach. Over the course of the past five seasons 76 SFA athletes have earned All-SLC honors, including 20 first-team selections and 47 have received All-America honors including 2010 Walter Payton Award winner Jeremy Moses. In addition to that, Harper has produced three league newcomers of the year, two players of the year, two defensive players of the year, an SLC offensive player of the year and has had two players drafted.
Harper came to Nacogdoches as the defensive coordinator prior to the 2005 season. In his first year, Harper was given the task of guiding a youthful defense through the rigors of one of the nation's toughest schedules. During his second year on the job, Harper began to see some of the fruits of his labor. Harper turned a defense that finished near the bottom in every statistical category in 2005, into the most effective defenses in the league. SFA led the SLC in scoring defense, rush defense and total defense during league games in 2006.
A 22-year veteran of collegiate coaching, Harper was at Western Michigan prior to joining the SFA staff. He was the defensive coordinator for coach Gary Darnell in 2004 and served as the defensive linecoach in 2003. His defensive line was ranked third-best in the MAC in 2003. He also coached Jason Babin, a first-round draft pick of the Houston, Texans, while at WMU.
Prior to Western Michigan, Harper spent four seasons as an assistant in the SLC helping Northwestern State and McNeese State to three playoff appearances. Harper was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for Scott Stoker at Northwestern State in 2002 when the Demons posted a 9-4 record and earned an FCS playoff spot. The Demons were first in the SLC in total defense in 2002, giving up only 276.6 yards per game.
Harper also spent a season as the defensive coordinator at Southwest Missouri State in 1997 and served an earlier stint as the defensive line coach at Western Michigan in 1996. He spent four seasons as the defensive line coach at Southwest Missouri State from 1992-96.
Following a four-year playing career at Clemson, where the Tigers won three ACC Championships, Harper began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at North Carolina under Mack Brown. He later served two seasons as a graduate assistant for coach Lou Holtz at Notre Dame.
Harper and his wife, Marcie, are the parents of a son, Michael (6) and daughter, Emma (2).