View Count: 464 |  Publish Date: April 06, 2014
Walk-on makes impression at Cal scrimmage

The littlest Golden Bear had a big day Saturday.
At 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, Austin Harper stands out for his lack of size, even for a running back. However, after the way he played in Cals first full-pads, live tackling practice of spring, he earned respect from teammates who tower over him.
Hes a great kid, quarterback Jared Goff said. Hes small, but he doesnt lack heart. Hes a good player.
With the coaches resting Khalfani Muhammad, Harper and Jeffrey Coprich got the majority of carries in a 40-play live team scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. Harper may be extra-small, but the flip side is that theres not a lot of him to hit, and he did his best to minimize contact with cuts, feints and other elusive moves.
It was contact between the tackles, but its nothing I couldnt handle, Harper said. I just got to keep pushing forward. Every day has to be like that. It was wonderful to have the opportunity.
Harper caught the eye of head coach Sonny Dykes, who said, Hes not the biggest guy in the world, but he did some productive things today. The great thing about spring is, some guys will surprise you.
Harpers best play was a diving catch of a Goff pass on the goal line for a touchdown. Harper saved Goff on a day in which the sophomore quarterback was not at his best as far as accuracy.
I had a pretty good day, Harper said. It took me time to adjust these first three days. I put everything together today. Me being a walk-on, it helps me to show what I can do.
Harper, from Oakland, spent his first two high school years at De La Salle before transferring to El Cerrito for his junior and senior years due to a lot of financial problems.
Cal coaches were aware of Harper at El Cerrito and invited him to walk on in 2013. He redshirted last season and hopes to get some playing time this fall.
Get on the field, he said when asked his goals for the season to come. Thats first. When I do get on the field, make sure I do what Im supposed to do.
Briefly: Coprich, a redshirt sophomore, had a 50-yard run as his highlight of the day. ... Linebacker Jalen Jefferson grabbed a tipped pass by Goff for an interception. ... Defensive end Brennan Scarlett had a sack of Austin Hinder and pressured him into an incompletion on back-to-back plays.
John Crumpacker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @crumpackeroncal

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Time: 2:52  |  News Code: 395707  |  Site: San Francisco Chronicle
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