Early perceptions don’t always paint a clear picture of the future for football recruits

By Dan Arritt     9/6/2017

High school football recruits are accustomed to getting weighed, whether it’s the traditional method of stepping on a scale, or the more modern practice of counting the stars attached to their recruiting profile, or the scholarship offers listed beneath their names. 

Nick Harris and Addison Ooms carried a lot of weight as offensive linemen in the Trinity League. They just didn’t appeal much to college recruiters. As both near the halfway point of their Pac-12 Conference careers, Harris and Ooms continue to demonstrate that early perceptions don’t always paint a clear picture of the future. 

Harris had scholarship offers from New Hampshire and Cal Poly SLO when he snapped up an offer from Washington the summer before his senior year at JSerra.  

Ooms had just one scholarship offer on the table following his senior season at Mater Dei —from the University of San Diego—so he agreed to join California as a preferred walk-on, meaning he’d have to pay for his own housing, books and tuition. 

Neither made first-team all-Orange County by the OC Register during their senior years, and neither was invited to participate in a postseason all-star game. 

But Harris and Ooms will be counted on to play key roles for their college teams again this season, proving that rankings, awards and stacks of scholarship offers take a back seat to hard work and dedication. 

Harris wasn’t even the most heavily recruited offensive lineman at JSerra during his senior year in 2015-16, but returns this season as one of the most experienced blockers at Washington. 

Ooms was barely recruited out of Mater Dei before, during and after his senior season in 2013, so he walked on at California. Four years later, he’s the lone returning starter on the offensive line for the Golden Bears and considered one of the top centers in the nation.  

“He knows what it takes to be a good player,” former California coach Sonny Dykes told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s just worked his way into a role.” 

After appearing in 12 games as a true freshman at left guard last season, Harris is expecting even better things his sophomore year. 

“Obviously last year, nobody in the country knew who I was. Nobody even thought I would play … but I was eager to learn,” Harris told the Tacoma News Tribune. “This camp, I’ve got the playbook down a little more. It is about expecting things, and reacting to things more than just learning the basic fundamentals.” 

Ooms was probably even more unknown coming out of Mater Dei in 2014. 

With only one scholarship offer on the table and signing day less than a week away, Ooms decided to commit to California as a preferred walk-on. He redshirted his first year on campus before seeing action in three games his second season. 

He won the starting job at center in his third year and started all 12 games for the Golden Bears last season, earning the team award as the most improved lineman. 

Ooms is gaining national recognition too. He was named this summer to the Rimington Trophy watch list, which is annually awarded to the top center in the nation. He’s the first player from California to make the Rimington watch list since 2008. 

That’s the type of recognition that carries a lot of weight.