Injured the past two seasons when Fresno State played in a bowl, fifth-year senior Josh Harper finally will suit up in his first bowl Wednesday against Rice.
A first-team All-Mountain West selection this season, Harper also has a chance to become Fresno State’s career receptions leader should he make 10 catches in the Hawaii Bowl.
Harper enters the bowl with 224 career receptions, trailing only Davante Adams (2012-13), who made 233 catches. Harper has had five games with 10 or more catches in his career.
This season, Harper caught 86 passes for seven touchdowns and 1,072 yards to become only the third player in Fresno State and Mountain West history to record 1,000-yard receiving seasons in consecutive years (he had 1,011 receiving yards last year).
“It’s crazy being a fifth-year senior and this being my first bowl game,” Harper said. “I just can’t wait. I’m just praying for Wednesday and getting this game going.”
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Harper, a projected second-round pick for the upcoming NFL draft, could find himself matching against a fellow draft-caliber player in Rice senior cornerback Bryce Callahan.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Callahan has 12 career interceptions, with one pick and seven pass deflections this season to earn All-Conference USA, second-team honors.
“He’s got incredible coverage ability, great speed and can make a play on a ball like a receiver,” Rice coach David Bailiff said. “That’ll be a fun matchup (Harper vs. Callahan) if it works out that way.”