Class of 1956


Darrell Harper

1989 Inductee to High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame

All Big Ten punter, All-American Academic Team Member, 1959

Professional football player

High School teacher and coach

Inducted into Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame, 1996

Darrell L. Harper graduated from Royal Oak High School in 1956 where he lettered in basketball, baseball and was all-state in football. He attended the University of Michigan where he played football. Out of the backfield, he gained yards both rushing and receiving. He also returned punts and kick-offs. His senior year he returned a punt for 83 yards which stood as a U of M school record until 1972. Harper's specialty was kicking. He was both the place kicker and the punter, and was the All Big Ten punter in 1959. That year he was also an Academic All American.

In 1960 Darrell Harper was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but chose to sign with the Buffalo Bills in the new American Football League. Harper had the distinction of making the opening kick-off in the first regular-season game in the history of the Bills. He also scored the first official points in team history when he kicked a 35 yard field goal in its first game against the New York Titans.

After his football career Darrell Harper worked as a high school teacher and football coach in Michigan. His tenure included twenty-five years at Southfield Lathrup and additional time at Walled Lake Central High School. In 1989 Darrell Harper was inducted into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame and coached the East All-star game in 1994. In 1996 Darrell Harper was inducted into the Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame.