OWASSO — John Cole Neph was waiting for an opportunity to catch the attention of coaches at a major Division I football program.
The Owasso wide receiver got a chance during a June 15 camp at Kansas State, and he made it count.
Neph's performance at the camp earned him a scholarship offer from the Wildcats, his first from a BCS program — vaulting him to No. 27 on The Oklahoman's class of 2014 Super 30 list.
“I had just been waiting for coaches to see me in person,” Neph said. “I had a decent highlight tape sent out to a lot of places, but I thought — if they can see me in person, they might start to like me more. That's what I think happened with K-State.”
For a wide receiver during the recruiting process, 40-yard dash times are often heavily scrutinized. But speed isn't Neph's strength. His size — 6-foot-4, 205 pounds — and technique make him tough to cover.
“Honestly, I don't run the fastest 40,” said Neph, whose fastest 40 time is a 4.73. “I'm not the fast guy out there, but I know how to run routes and get open. I think that's what (Kansas State) liked about me so much.”
Before Kansas State extended an offer, Neph had received offers from Holy Cross, Illinois State, Louisiana-Monroe, Texas-San Antonio, and other non-Division I programs.
Now that summer camps are over and his highlight film has made the rounds, Neph is shifting his focus away from the recruiting process and onto his upcoming senior season at Owasso — specifically the goal of winning the Class 6A state championship.
“I'm more focused on my team and our workouts right now,” said Neph, who had 855 yards and eight touchdowns on 51 catches as a junior. “I'll get up to K-State for a game in the fall and go to some other places, but I realize that I need to stay focused on my team first.
“When I'm comfortable with where I want to go I'll make a decision, but I'm not going to let that take away from what we're doing on Friday night. That's where my focus will be because we're going to bring home a gold ball.”
No. 27: John Cole Neph
Position: Wide receiver
Recruited by: Holy Cross, Illinois State, Kansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Texas-San Antonio