2018 Prospect Watch: JT Luper, WR, University of Central Oklahoma

Luper, Wide Receiver
JT Luper, WR, UCO

If you guys follow me on Twitter (and you should…@tpeck2), you will notice that I am on there a lot. I follow about 3,700 people. And probably 3,500 of those are high school or non-FBS college coaches. It is through one of my D2 follows that I happened across this 2018 wide receiver prospect: JT Luper, the 5-9 dynamo from Edmond, OK.

There is a lot to talk about here with Luper… and not a lot of information to find. As I get messages back, I will update this article. We will start with the good, and lordy there is a lot of good. About 1300 reasons… that is how many yards Luper has (on 83 catches) with 3 regular season games left in the UCO season. Couple that with his 10 TDs, and you are talking a Madden create-a-player type production here. This is not a fluke, in the 2015 season he had 735 yards on 65 catches, while averaging 14.4 yards per punt return, and 22.6 kick return yards.

Something that NFL scouts look for when scouting FCS or below is domination of opponents. If you aren’t a man among boys at a lower level, there is no hope for you in the NFL. Luper is showing that he can indeed stand out here.

Watching his HUDL (yes, HUDL), you can see his speed and hands on display with every highlight. Luper has a limited route tree, at least in these clips, but he shows amazing awareness of holes in zones, and utter fearlessness when encountering double or triple coverage. His QB also implicitly trusts him to either make the catch, or defend the INT, as he will throw deep in to triple coverage often. He catches balls away from his body, and is able to track them in the air on deep routes. His awareness of the “red line” is also notable, he leaves his QB about 3 yards of real estate to drop a ball in on the sideline.

Luper as shown a tenacity in blocking that is greater than his frame suggests (5-9 175), and has special teams value as a cover man and punt returner. His creativity in the open field is one of his major skills, and should serve him well as he battles for a 4th or 5th WR spot in the NFL initially.

Luper is an all around athlete. He reports a 4.42 40 yard dash, but may clock at the high 4.3s during the Combine or Pro Day. He also boasts some great explosion for such a small frame, as evidenced by his high school junior year track numbers:

43′ 4″ Triple Jump
5′ 6″ High Jump
23.44 200m
School record 800m relay

Now, some concerns. There is obviously not much film (yet) on Luper. I am going off highlights here. I am currently searching for film, and will update as needed. Also, he mysteriously sat out the 2016 season after a good 2015 newcomer year to UCO (after two years at Tyler (TX) JUCO). I make no assumptions here, and will continue to search for the reason for that absence. These are questions that NFL evaporators will have, so we must ask them as well. Aside from those, the jump from MIAA Division II football to the NFL will be large, but it has been done. We will see what this offseason brings for Luper.

For the Colts, Luper projects as slightly slower Tyreek Hill. He has a similar skillset, in that he can line up in any backfield position (even QB, he has thrown for one TD), and make a big play. He is a game breaker who will take time to adjust to the overall speed of the NFL game, but can find a home as a returner and special teams ace, while getting 30 or so touches his first two seasons. He would be a 6th-priority UDFA selection for the Colts, hopefully becoming what Dorsett was supposed to be. A complementary speed WR and Hilton handcuff, while providing great special teams value and a change of pace in the backfield.

ISC-Colts, as far as we know, is the first to break down JT Luper as a prospect. We hope to see him on the field next year.

 

UPDATE: NFL DRAFT DIAMONDS has him listed as a Small School Prospect, but no write up associated.

UPDATE 10/31: New information about Lupers missing 2016 campaign, according to a verified team source:

“Just giving you some information on JT Luper. He had some academic problems in the spring of 2016 that forced him to be academically ineligible for that season. [Source omitted]… I can assure you he was missed last year. Definitely no character/emotional/humility flaws. Awesome teammate, and obviously a hell of a wideout. Just had one poor semester in the classroom that cost him. And for the record, he very easily could’ve checked it in after becoming ineligible. But he came back faster and stronger this season. Kid is a stud! He’s one of the leaders on that offense no doubt. Not someone who will rah rah you to death, but he speaks up when necessary.”

About Tom Peck 11 Articles
Former teacher, current facilitator for community corrections. Father and husband. I coach high school football, help recruits find homes, and love the NFL Draft in all of its weird glory. Follow me on Twitter for football, politics, food, dog pictures and rants about my son.

1 Comment

  1. Zero character issues with this kid. I am a fan of UCO entirely because my 10 year old son went to watch the 2017 Spring game at UCO and decided Loop was his new receiver idol and he literally CALLED it that #2 was going to be amazing. He even decided that instead of just dreaming about the NFL himself, he is now determined to become a lawyer and sports agent. After that game he started a Twitter list called “my future clients” and JT was his first add. JT has made sure this kid that followed him way back before he was breaking records still gets a little of his time after each game and he answers all of Braedyn’s posts to him. In terms of growth and preparation for the NFL, he couldn’t have designed it any better than this season played out. With strong leadership on the line and Senior talent and maturity in Josh Crockett and Chas Stallard, he has been able to keep drama-free and focused on academics and his game. I would also point out that I think a key factor in the numbers the team and JT have put up this season is most likely due to Bobeck’s hiring of Jarrail Jackson as receiver coach just as JT was returning to eligibility. I have pieced together the following so forgive me as a non-industry observer, if I have gotten any details wrong…
    The former Sooner, turned coach had his own difficulties after being recruited in 95 as a receiver to play for OU. After a phenomenal display in the red river shoot out of 96, he goes unused after a coaching turn-over until his Senior year with the arrival of Bob Stoops. That is also where he first worked with Mike Leach. After a short career with the Arena League, JJ began coaching, his first stop in the Ivy at Dartmouth. However, the following years were spent at Washington State working with the perfecter, if not inventor of the Air Raid offense, his old coach Leach in Player Relations, as a receiver coach , and one of the best recruiters and developers/mentors to “borderline” kids who would have gone unseen and un-recruited had it not been for his personal investment in them as men. Luper’s lack of tape probably stems from his lack of self-promotion and genuine humility at just being able to be back on the field. I can only assume the fact that Jackson’s own Alma Mater or OSU, who’ve both become more pass-driven offenses in recent years, haven’t snatched him up since his return to Oklahoma. Jackson left a position with Mississippi State to join the UCO team and that might cause some to wonder (as above with Luper’s 2016 absence) if it was due to some flaw or to avoid being a victim of the “post-season coaching staff massacres” we see annually. If that is the cause for hesitation by the Oklahoma “Big Boys” to put him on staff, I would advise them to dig a little deeper. What many don’t know, and what I think is probably a more likely reason for his return to Oklahoma, is that he has a son who is a talented athlete as well and beginning his varsity years near Tulsa. Given his devotion to even former players (attending graduations and cheering at the Combine for former players even after leaving previous coaching positions, staying in touch with kids whose poor decisions led to their dismissals from the team to help them resettle or find jobs or JUCOs, etc) I don’t have a website, but I will include the link to my son’s Twitter page. Pinned to the top you will find his most treasured picture, from that first Spring game that led to his love of the player and the coach he now calls “Uncle JJ” who are in it with him. If you want to catch JT or talk to his teammates, I know where you can find them at least one day at the same time and place. Thanksgiving…At Coach Jackson’s house.

    *Edited by Tom Peck*

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