Echols-Luper ready to make impact in final collegiate season

Sam Porter

In late May, former Texas Christian University and Arkansas State wide receiver Cameron Echols-Luper graduated from ASU with one year of eligibility left to play college football.

Needing another place to call home for his final season of eligibility, Echols-Luper reached out to former WKU wide receiver Stephon Brown Jr., whom Echols-Luper said he’s good friends with.

According to Echols-Luper, senior quarterback Mike White vouched for him as well and head coach Mike Sanford and company agreed to bring him in.

“We all want weapons, and we want as many as we can get,” offensive coordinator Junior Adams said. “I think by adding Cam we’re just adding another weapon. We got a lot of weapons on the receiving corps. As an offensive staff we’re just trying to figure out how we’re going to use them all.”

Last season at Arkansas State, the Texas native caught 26 passes for 407 yards and one touchdown while helping Arkansas State to an 8-5 record Although those numbers aren’t staggering, Echols-Luper brings more than just skill at the wide receiver position; he’s also been a starter at punt returner. In fact, the biggest play of his college career was a punt return.

During the 2014 season, fourth ranked TCU found itself on upset alert on the road against a 2-7 Kansas squad. With the Horned Frogs trailing 27-24 late in the third quarter, Echols-Luper returned a punt 69 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, outsprinting every Jayhawk down the left sideline once he found an opening. The touchdown would be the last of the game as the Horned Frogs held on for a 34-30 victory to keep their college football playoff hopes alive.

While at TCU, Echols-Luper also starred on the Horned Frogs’ track team where he was a member of the Horned Frogs 4×100 meter relay that finished 11th in the nation.

“The fact that he has a punt for a touchdown in the Big 12 is significant,” Sanford said. “His speed is verified by being on one of the elite 4×100 teams as a freshman and sophomore at TCU. I think this is a great fit for him culturally.”

Whether WKU fans will see Echols-Luper on special teams is still up in the air. Senior wide receiver Nacarius Fant returns at punt returner after tying the school record for punt return touchdowns (2) in a single season. While Sanford mentioned he believes the addition of Echols-Luper brings more depth to the receiver position, it also appears bring more depth in the return game as well.

“My dog Fant is the starter right now, so I’m backing him up,” Echols-Luper said.

“If my opportunity comes, I’ll take full advantage. Right now I’m working on learning new plays and learning everything I need to on offense to be the best receiver I can.”

While Echols-Luper and Fant give the Hilltoppers strength in the return game, the two are both expected to play major roles in the receiving game. During the Hilltoppers’ second scrimmage, Echols-Luper got his first chance to show what he could do. The Ennis, Texas native made several notable plays, including a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone. The graduate transfer will look to help a position that lost over 60 percent of its production from last season.

The Hilltoppers open the season this Saturday at 6 p.m. when they host Eastern Kentucky University. Echols-Luper is expected to see the field despite just arriving just two weeks ago.

“It’s honestly a tremendous feeling to get my third opportunity to play at a school where I truly feel the love,” Echols-Luper said. “I can’t do anything but give the love back on the field.”

Reporter Sam Porter can be reached at 270-799-8247 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @SammyP14.