Devin Harper appreciates the small-town, close-knit family environment that attracted him to Oklahoma State.
When one member of the 2019 signing class arrives in Stillwater, the connection between football and family will take on a new meaning for Devin, a redshirt sophomore linebacker.
He and his younger brother, Thomas Harper, will become teammates.
Thomas, a three-star recruit from Karns High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, signed his letter of intent Wednesday to play for OSU.
“He’d been up here plenty of times, and he likes the town and the coaches and stuff a lot,” Devin said. “I just told him, really, ‘Just choose where you want to go, choose where you want to be and just make the best of it.’”
Thomas is one of two 2019 signees who has a Cowboy defender as a sibling. Kody Walterscheid, a three-star recruit from Muenster High School in Texas, is the younger brother of Cole Walterscheid, a redshirt senior defensive end.
Mike Gundy, OSU’s coach, discussed the benefits of recruiting brothers, especially in terms of conversations with parents.
“When we go into a home of a younger brother, we can say, ‘This is . . . the way we said it would happen with your other son, and it has, and we hope that he'll be a part of our program,’” Gundy said. “So we have some evidence to bring to the table that we do what we say we’re gonna do.”
In past seasons, the Cowboys have brought siblings to the program. Rashaun, Donovan and D’Juan Woods played for OSU, keeping a Woods brother on the roster from 1999 to 2007. Doug, David and Daniel Koenig created a family tradition as Cowboy offensive linemen from Florida.
But sibling ties alone often can’t convince a student-athlete to sign with OSU.
Daxton Hill, the top-ranked 2019 prospect in Oklahoma and the younger brother of Justice Hill, has received national attention with his commitment changes from Michigan to Alabama and back to Michigan. The Cowboys also couldn’t entice Caden Sterns, the younger brother of Jordan Sterns and the recipient of the Big 12 Freshman of the Year honor after a standout season at Texas. Logan Rudolph, Mason Rudolph’s brother, picked Clemson.
Devin and Cole said they didn’t pressure their brothers to choose OSU.
“I told him, ‘It’s all up to you,’” Cole said.
Kody is a defensive end on OSU’s 2019 "class by position" list, but he also played offensive tackle at Muenster. During his junior season, Muenster clinched a state championship and posted a 16-0 record.
Cole won’t play alongside his brother at OSU, but he said there is no need to prepare him for scrimmaging against brawny teammates.
“He’s a big kid,” Cole said. “He’ll be able to hold his own. I’m excited for him.”
When Dillon Stoner, a redshirt sophomore wide receiver and Cole’s roommate, met Kody, the young recruit looked familiar to him.
“He’s a spitting image of his brother,” Stoner said.
Their towering statures mirror each other, but Cole acknowledged that Kody has greater size and power than he had at the start of his Cowboy career.
“I was 210 (pounds) when I first got here, and yeah, he’s developed a lot quicker than I did,” Cole said. “He’s like right at 250 right now, and so I think (Rob) Glass will be excited to have him in the weight room, and he may develop that summer and have a chance to play as a freshman.”
Devin also said his brother has potential to compete in games as a freshman.
Although the 247Sports website designated Thomas as a general “athlete,” he is a cornerback on OSU’s "class by position" list. Devin explained that Thomas prefers playing defense, but he showed skill on both sides of the ball at Karns.
He notched 67 solo tackles and racked up 1,279 receiving yards as a senior, according to his MaxPreps.com statistics.
Thomas and Devin didn’t get the chance to compete as a dynamic duo.
Devin said when he played at Karns, Thomas prioritized basketball as a freshman and had a broken finger that ended his football season. When Thomas became a key player for Karns in the following years, Devin was already at OSU.
“I haven’t played with him yet, so I’m looking forward to it a lot,” Devin said.
Thomas is one of seven signees who plans to enroll at OSU early. Although he isn’t on campus yet, he has formed friendships with his future fellow defenders. Devin said Thomas talks to them on Snapchat.
“A lot of people on defense like him,” Devin said. “He knows them a lot.”
It’s the family vibe that drew Devin to OSU.
He is already sharing it with Thomas.