I’m sure one of the greatest stories you can hear Nebraska football head coach Mike Riley tell is about the “one who got away.” The recruit Riley wanted but didn’t have room for. The quarterback he wanted to draft but was told “no.” The Great White Buffalo. The G.O.A.T.
We’re talking about Tom Brady.
While that’s a great story, it’s not one Riley wants to recreate, and thankfully he has the power to prevent it this time around. Riley’s in his third year at Nebraska and has full control of the program. Most importantly, Riley has ultimate say on quarterbacks.
One of his first accomplishments was injecting talent into the position. So far he’s brought on four in Patrick O’Brien, Tulane transfer Tanner Lee, Tristan Gebbia and walk-on Andrew Bunch. Having yet to secure a quarterback commit in the 2018 class, many speculated that Riley would simply wait until the 2019 class and go full throttle after prospects such as Max Duggan, JT Daniels or Grant Gunnell.
Instead, he turned his attention to some of the lesser-known recruits within the 500-mile radius. The ones who may get passed over for more flashy athletes. The recruits who, like Brady, had to work a little harder to get noticed.
Bart Harris, a Belton, Mo. pro-style quarterback fits that mold. Nebraska has been on Harris’ radar for longer than most. Many sought after recruits at the recent Rivals 3 Stripe Camp in St Louis have been hearing about the Huskers for the last few seasons. Bart, who received top performer accolades at the camp, has heard about The Big Red from his dad (a former Missouri tight end) since he was a young boy.
Following the Rivals camp, Bart had a plan. The Huskers’ Friday Night Lights camp was a perfect opportunity for him to show off his talents to Nebraska’s coaches and earn some one-on-one attention from the staff.
That plan worked and after his strong performance on June 16, the coaches requested that he stay an extra day to evaluate what they had to offer the talented Harris. Not only that, they wanted him back for their camp on the 23rd that was stocked full of high-profile recruits. That offer wasn’t going to be turned down.
During that second trip, Harris got to spend some time throwing to and getting to know newly committed walk-on wide receiver Justin Holm. The two hit it off and there’s a good chance they’ll be roommates when they find their way to campus. If the first trip wasn’t enough, that second trip in front of thousands of Husker fans only solidified Harris’ thoughts about the opportunities at Nebraska.
— Justin Holm (@j_holm2) June 28, 2017
“The main thing that stuck out was the fans. 10,000 people at a summer camp was something I’ve never seen before.” Harris said.
Nebraska has always been in the picture for Harris, but after that day it was the only place that felt right. He knew Lincoln was where he wanted to compete and spend the next four years of his life. Even if it meant choosing to walk-on over scholarship offers from Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois and Northern Iowa.
— Bart Harris⁶𓅓 (@bart_harris3) June 28, 2017
“It just felt like the right fit. The schools I had offers from are fantastic, but I wanted to take the chance of playing in front of 90,000 die-hard fans.”
Harris knows it’s a gamble and that he has to earn his opportunities. The mindset is there and it’s backed up by his desire to shut down his camps, visits and recruitment to focus all of his attention on winning the state championship for Belton High School.
It’s also exhibited by the quarterback he models his game after.
“I would like to compare myself to Tom Brady, but I obviously have a long way to go. I say this because athletically speaking we are similar, and our throwing motions are similar. I definitely aspire to be as great as him.”
No one can say if Harris will be the next Brady. All I can say is that if Riley wants him, it’s for a good reason.