Every morning, for the past 14 years, Omar Harris, 37, has gotten in his car at 3 a.m., and driven over the Bay Bridge to San Francisco. He leaves behind his youngest son, Messiah, six; his daughter, Jayden, 12, and his son, 16-year old Omari Harris, to drive a Muni bus.
"Every morning, faithfully," says Omari, his voice cracking, as he considers what his commitment to California on Tuesday means to his family. "I'm getting kind of emotional; I'm sorry."
When Omari, who's been seven-on-seven teammates with 2017 Cal linebacker commit Paul Scott for three years, announced his commitment, he called the Oakland (Calif.) McClymonds linebacker. The first question Scott had: "Who did you do it for?"
It was an easy answer: Family.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1725426-cal-commitment-all... It's the same reason Paul has. He's doing it for his mother, and his young daughter.
Even with the possibility that head coach Sonny Dykes may leave for Baylor, Harris's commitment to the Bears is just that -- a commitment to the school, and to his family; not to any one coach or system.
"For me, right now, it's the commitment to Cal, and really, it's the commitment to my family," Harris said. "Going anywhere else, expenses, that's what I have to think about. We don't have the most money in the world. This is for my family to be able to go out to Cal to see me."
Harris grew up in a crowded two-bedroom apartment in East Oakland, near the Coliseum. Six years ago, the family moved into a two-story house in Antioch, Calif., but money is still tight. Before committing to the Bears as a running back, Harris had offers to play outside linebacker for Utah and Nebraska. After he finished telling Dykes on Tuesday night that he wanted to commit -- a spur-of-the-moment decision -- he told his father and mother.
"Guess what?" he said. "I committed."
Jessica, 35, Harris's mother, "was jumping for joy." His father, shocked, deadpanned: "I really thought you were going to get up and leave on me."
"He thought I was going to get up and go to some far school, like Nebraska or Utah," Harris says.
Harris didn't grow up going to Cal games. There wasn't enough money. He just sat in front of the television with his father, and watched football.
"As I got older, I realized, 'I could probably do this,'" Harris says. "Then, I grew into it, and I said, 'You know what? I'm going to stick with it.' I didn't think about college growing up a a kid. Really, for me, I would just turn on the TV with my dad, and we'd sit down and watch football. I said, 'I want to do that. I want to be that guy on the TV making plays, having his name called out.'"
Harris has to pause. His emotions come in waves.
"I'm sorry," he says. "You know, like I said, my dad's been getting up at the crack of dawn every morning, faithfully, since I was three. My mom, he's been working since I was the same age. I just never really liked seeing my parents stressed. I want to be able to give back to them, and tell them, 'You guys really pushed something in my life, for my whole family.' At one point, I was doing it because I was just having fun, but now, it's actually paying off. I just want to stick with it."
Harris has a 2.9 GPA, and if he gets a B in his science class this semester, he'll hit a 3.0. Next year, he'll be taking Advanced Placement Government. The bespectacled Harris cuts a rather studious profile, and now that he has Berkeley in his future, those grades mean even more, particularly in his chosen subject, chemistry.
http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1730661-2018-4-st... "I've been thinking about it since I entered high school: I've always wanted to go into the biotechnology field," says Harris, who is currently taking a biotech elective. "I've always been a huge science geek, I guess you could say. I just really love science. I love the 'Why?' questions to life -- why this, why that, why does this react with that? -- stuff like that."
Cal's academic profile was one of the main selling points, particularly the opportunities available at Berkeley to delve into the biotech field.
"To pull the trigger, right now, was seeing the opportunities that I have, and what I want to major in," Harris says. "Cal is the No. 1 public college in the world, and they are the best in that field that I want to go into. 'I can't really pass up an opportunity like this. I have to talk this over with my family.' They always bring it up in the conversation: 'They have what you want to do. Why look anywhere else? It's right there in your face?'"
So, on Tuesday night, Harris called Dykes.
"You're going to laugh at this one," Harris says. "It was [Tuesday] night after football practice, and I was on the phone with coach Dykes, and I was just talking to him, asking how everything was going, how his family was doing, and I was like, 'You know, coach, I think I'm ready. I've talked it over with my family for a while, and it's about time.' It was one of those."