NCAA’s Leading Receiver
J.T. Luper, 2, raises the ball in front of the home crowd after scoring one of four touchdowns of the game on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. (Hayden Barzditis/The Vista)
— UCO Bronchos (@ucoathletics) September 30, 2017
Senior wide receiver J.T. Luper is off to a record breaking start in his final year at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Coming into this season, he was already considered a playmaker for the Bronchos, but he said he also wanted to be considered a leader for his team.
“I wanted to work on my leadership to lead this team with the other seniors because we do have a very young team coming up next year,” said Luper. “I just wanted to be a better leader than I used to be last year.”
One of the ways he leads his teams is with his performance on the field.
In his first game of the season, Luper only had 3 catches for 44 yards and 1 touchdown. Since then, he began to develop a trend where his receiving yards for a game have increased each week.
In his second game, he had 7 catches for 170 yards and 1 touchdown. In his third game, he had 12 catches for 184 yards.
In his fourth game last week, He ended up with 8 catches for a whopping 253 yards, which is now the second most by a receiver in a single game in UCO’s history, along with 2 touchdowns. Two of his 8 catches went for 85 yards and 83 yards, respectively.
Though he is listed as a wide receiver, catching the ball is not the only thing that Luper does for the Bronchos. He also returns kickoffs and punts.
“I feel like you can pretty much stick me anywhere and I can just pick up the game plan that easy,” said Luper. “Either as a decoy or to execute the game plan, I feel like I can just be put anywhere and make something happen.”
Even though he was breaking records individually, UCO was off to a 1-3 start on the season, where the 3 losses have all been close games.
That all changed in Satuday’s game against Emporia State University.
At first, UCO and ESU were trading touchdowns throughout the first half, with UCO having the lead going into halftime with a score of 29-21.
Then in the 3rd quarter, ESU scored 17 straight points and added another 7 points in the fourth quarter, making the score 45-29.
UCO did not give up as they fought their way back into the game and ended up winning with quarterback Chas Stallard throwing a touchdown pass to Luper, and UCO going for two points to make the final score 53-52.
Luper’s individual stats in that game were 12 catches for 230 yards and 4 touchdowns. His 12 catches are tied for the second most in a game, his 230 yards are the fourth most in a game, and his 4 touchdowns are tied for the most touchdown receptions in a game.
Luper’s overall stats in five games have him first in the Mid America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in receiving yards with 881 yards.
His 881 receiving yards would even be first in Division I football, as the player ranked first, James Washington of Oklahoma State University, only has 647 receiving yards. As of now, Luper’s 881 yards ranks eighth most in school history.
Now with a record of 2-3, Luper says that he expects things to turn around because they have finally found their rhythm.
“We just got to finish,” said Luper. “That’s the biggest thing, is to just finish. But we’ll be all right. Everything will take care of itself.”