Syracuse football defensive tackle Curtis Harper has entered the transfer portal, according to a source. The fifth-year junior becomes the second key reserve on the Orange’s 3-3-5 defense to leave the program in as many weeks, following third-year linebacker Geoff Cantin-Arku.
The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Harper is a three-year contributor for SU, having played significant snaps in 32 of the team’s last 34 games. He’s appeared in 10 of 11 contests this fall, totaling 14 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Harper has one season of eligibility remaining and will be able to use it next year at any school.
Harper did not play in Syracuse’s 41-17 loss at No. 25 North Carolina State on Saturday despite traveling and dressing. Starter McKinley Williams saw 36 snaps while true freshman Terry Lockett took the other 21, according to Pro Football Focus.
A McKeesport, Pa., native, Harper appeared in all 11 games last season, recording 14 tackles, including 1.5 for loss. He also appeared in 11 games in 2019, logging 13 tackles and a pair of sacks. He redshirted in 2017 before playing sparingly the following fall.
Harper came to Central New York from McKeesport High School, where he was rated three stars and the No. 109 defensive tackle in his cycle by the 247Sports Composite. A Class of 2016 prospect, he also received offers from Boston College, Iowa State, Louisville, UConn, Colorado State, Maryland, Minnesota, Wake Forest, Western Michigan and Miami (OH), among others.
SU (5-6, 2-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) will wrap up its regular season without Harper when No. 20 Pittsburgh comes to the Carrier Dome on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Along with Williams and Lockett, third-year walk-on Kevon Darton is available as a game-proven backup.
The departure of Harper has more of an effect on the 2022 defensive line room. With four seniors — Williams, Josh Black, Kingsley Jonathan and Cody Roscoe — set to exhaust their eligibility, that position group will be left without many returning contributors. Lockett is part of that group along with defensive ends Caleb Okechukwu and Steve Linton.
Harper becomes the seventh SU player to leave midseason and the third defensive underclassman, following Cantin-Arku second-year defensive lineman Latarie Kinsler. The rest of that group includes quarterbacks Tommy DeVito and Dillon Markiewicz, wide receiver Taj Harris and running back Jarveon Howard.
Freshman tight end Landon Morris entered the portal during preseason camp while second-year safety Ben Labrosse and Arizona State offensive line transfer Cody Shear have also left the program electively this fall.