Omari Harris had a mindset that he wasn’t as good a football player as others thought. He made it his mission to always work two times as hard to get to be the player he wants to be.
“…The moment I really realized I was good at football was last year when I actually made an impact on my team as a sophomore,” he said.
In his sophomore year (2015), he recorded 22 carries, 203 yards (9.2 yards per carry) and four touchdowns as a running back and 33 tackles (16 solo), three sacks, one pass breakup, and one forced fumble. See his sophomore highlight film.
Harris’s junior season has seen a big spike in production defensively as he, through 11 games, has recorded 82 tackles (39 solos), an interception, two pass breakups, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. He has run for a total of 69 yards and two touchdowns and is currently third on the team in tackles.
Omari Harris and the Antioch High School Panthers / Antioch, California, are now 8-4 (3-2 League) heading into their NCS/Les Schwab Tires Division I championship game Saturday, Dec 3 against the Monte Vista Broncos 11-1 (8-0 League) out of Danville, California.
The Panthers by the numbers are better than the Mustangs in three categories according to Maxpreps.com: rushing yards per game (Antioch 294.8 – Monte Vista – 166.6), total yards per game (Antioch 473.2 – Monte Vista – 427.3) and have the slight edge in points per game (Antioch 40.3 – Monte Vista – 39.9).
The Panthers are led offensively by Alabama commit and running back Najee Harris, no relation to Omari. Najee Harris in 12 games has carried the ball 269 times for 2,596 yards (9.7 yards per carry) and 33 touchdowns with 11 100+ yard games in 2016; he also has recorded 13 receptions for 240 yards and two touchdowns with the season not quite over.
The Panthers defense will need big performances from linebackers Omari Harris, Vinny Ballardo and Cameron Nathan. These three players combine for 266 tackles (123 solo), eight sacks, five forced fumbles and three tackles for loss. A lot of production for a linebacker corps.
Omari Harris said that controlling his emotions on the field has been something he has had to overcome but he recognized it and has worked on keeping them in check.
“…Growing up, I was emotional playing football and when everything starts to get tough, everything starts to rile up, my emotions start to come in and play a part in the game and everything. I’ve learned to kind of calm down because I see as a leader for my team that when my emotions get riled up, everyone else gets riled up.”
Harris is from Oakland, California and has lived in Antioch for the past few years. He likes the area, it has its ups and its downs but he knows as long as he stays close to his group of friends and stays out trouble that he’ll be alright. He also recognizes where he came from and what motivates him is his want to make his family proud.
“I’m a privileged kid but not as privileged [coming from] where I came from. I never want to have to go back to that. So, I mean, it’s more so my family that drives me to play the game now. I want to go to college and make my family proud. I want them to be able to say yeah I went to college. I did that and I graduated.”
In the classroom, Harris said he always liked the sciences, bio-engineering in particular. He takes a biotech class at Antioch High School and wants to pursue that further along with his football dream.
“On the field, I’ve always been known as the kid to have that leadership mentality. Everyone sees that I have that captain part in me. I feel like I can bring good leadership to the team. Off the field, I feel like can bring the academics part and everything and show everyone that they can do their thing. [Also], that person everyone can look up to, academics is all in the free part of football so I feel like that could be one thing I could bring to a university.”
Omari Harris is a three-star 2018 recruit, the 30th best outside linebacker and 41st best player in California according to the 247Sports Composite. He has four scholarship offers from Nebraska, California, Utah, and Eastern Washington.
“I do have high interest in California, Nebraska, and Utah. Schools that haven’t offered yet that I have a high interest in are USC, UCLA, I actually like Michigan, LSU, schools like that.”
Looking at Harris’ film, the six-foot, 202-pound linebacker is a great tackler in open space. His Coverage skills are an area where he needs work, he said.
“I feel like it’s pretty balanced. I’ve always been known as that hybrid player because, well, I’m not going to say I’m not big enough to play linebacker and I’m not small enough to play safety. I’ve always been known to be pretty versatile with everything that I do. They’ve put me where I best fit at,” he said about where he’s most effective on the field.
He believes he can be a great leader for a defense at the college level. He looks up to two-time Super Bowl champion and former Baltimore Raven, Ray Lewis.
“All around, I’ve always wanted to be like him. Have that high motor, never stop, keep going, push two times as hard just to make that one extra play and give everything you have every play,” Harris said.
Being a leader, especially on the defensive side, involves having to be able to be one step ahead of the opponent in order to make a play. That is what Harris enjoys most about playing football.
“…I can read a play and know what’s going to happen before the play starts. Going over film and being able to know the techniques and everything that certain teams do or a certain player, it has always been a big part of my game because I’ve always wanted to be one step ahead of a player and one step of what their coaches are thinking.”
Harris and the Antioch Panthers will face their toughest test yet in the Monte Vista Broncos but Harris and the Panthers defense will be ready for what will be in front of them on Saturday, Dec 3.
Truly blessed owe it to God and my family and Cal for the acceptance. From everyone at the shop to every coach at Antioch high school. pic.twitter.com/Wiey0Lt1HT
— +lil mari vert+ (@harris_omari28) November 30, 2016
2018 Antioch High School (Antioch, CA) linebacker Omari Harris committed to California earlier this week and has decided to stay in-state. Harris is now California’s second commit in the 2018 recruiting class.