Cal junior wide receiver Chris Harper announced Tuesday he will forgo his final season of college football to enter the NFL draft as a second assistant on coach Sonny Dykes’ staff was hired away by Kansas.
Offensive line coach Zach Yenser, whose unit made significant strides last fall, will become offensive line coach and run-game coordinator for the Jayhawks, according to multiple reports.
Yenser follows assistant head coach Rob Likens, who was named offensive coordinator for Kansas.
A Cal spokesman said Dykes had no immediate comment on the departure of the two assistant coaches.
KU has not officially announced the hiring of Yenser, but new Jayhawks coach David Beaty had praise for Likens.
“Rob has been a major player in some of the best offenses in the history of college football,” he said. “I have always been a fan of Rob’s ability to develop players who produce at a high level. Rob has learned from some of the best in the country and is as fine of an offensive mind as I have been around. Rob is a man of integrity and character and I cannot wait for our team to be able to benefit from his wisdom.”
Harper, a 5-foot-11, 175-pounder from Northridge, caught 52 passes for 634 yards and six touchdowns last fall. He had 70 receptions as a sophomore and leaves Cal with career totals of 163 catches for 2,030 yards and 13 TDs.
Harper released the following statement.
“Dear Cal Fans,
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 want to personally take the time out to give a huge thank you to coach Tedford who gave me the opportunity to be a Bear when my offers were very slim and at a time when other collegiate coaches didn’t believe in me. I also want to say thank you to Sonny Dykes and the current coaching staff who gave me the opportunities that were given on the field, and especially to coach Likens who I formed a close bond with in my last season as a Bear. 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.”
Dykes thanked Harper for his contributions and wished him well in the NFL.
“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,” Dykes said in a statement.
Harper was part of a deep corps of Cal wide receivers that also includes expected returnees Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler, Stephen Anderson, Trevor Davis and Darius Powe. The Bears also redshirted highly rated freshman wideout Erik Brown last fall.