Harper heads diverse group of Temple running backs

Temple running back Kenneth Harper. (C.F. Sanchez/Staff Photographer)

As one of eight seniors on the roster, running back Kenneth Harper knows the day is coming when the uniform he'll wear won't be Temple football's, but something more appropriate for the workforce.

To get ready for that, Harper, a finance major from Gainesville, Fla., who last season led the Owls in rushing yards (613) and touchdowns (11), interned over the summer here with PNC Bank.

"I worked on high-net-worth accounts," Harper said. "Asset management and portfolio management, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, and things like that. I have always liked working with numbers and want to continue on that path."

With Temple's season less than two weeks away from the Aug. 28 opener at Vanderbilt, Harper is the best-known among a diverse group of running backs who the Owls would like to see develop quickly.

"We like what we have in Kenny," Temple coach Matt Rhule said. "We know that he's a big guy who can get the tough inside yardage for us. And he's also got good explosion. He's also a natural leader who is doing a very good job helping the younger guys along."

Heading into last season, Harper had rushed for a total of just 193 yards, caught 13 passes for 129 yards, and scored four touchdowns. Harper knew that the departure of running back Montel Harris at the end of the 2012 season would create a chance for him.

"I always want the opportunity to show what I can do," said the 6-foot, 225-pound back, who has also played fullback for Temple. "Ihad opportunities last season and learned from it. I'm looking forward to making a big contribution, but, more important to me, I want to win games."

Much of training camp has been dedicated to bringing the other backs along. They include sophomore Zaire Williams (101 carries, 533 yards, two touchdowns), juniors Jamie Gilmore (34 carries, 179 yards) and Hassan Dixon, and freshman Jahad Thomas.

The Owls will hold their second scrimmage of training camp on Saturday at their Edberg-Olson practice facility, and Rhule will take a long look at the backs.

"We're looking for the guy who can break off a big play for us, the guy who can turn 8 yards into 80," Rhule said.

Harper said Rhule should be able to find that on the roster.

"We're very diverse in the backfield. We've got guys who can do a lot of things," he said. "We're a solid group."