When asked what side of the ball North Catholic four-star athlete Brady O’Hara would play if asked to limit him to one side of the ball, head coach Chris Rizzo gave a simple answer.
“I’d tell him no, you don’t have that option,” said Rizzo. “He’s a great run blocker, with soft hands and a big, long stride, so I like him at tight end only because you’re making me pick.”
The answer to what position O’Hara will play in college though is more complex. For those unfamiliar with the recruiting term “athlete” it refers to players who both play multiple positions in high school and are getting recruited for different positions for each college.
Essentially, they can be used almost anywhere, although they are commonly only used at a position, they have experience at. In the case of O’Hara, that’d be just tight end and defensive end, but he’s receiving more interest than that from major programs.
With five power-five offers under his belt, O’Hara is currently being recruited for both his tight end and defensive end positions, but also at left tackle, a position he doesn’t have experience at. Penn State, who 247Sports currently has as “warm” even though O’Hara declined to name a front runner, is the most notable school wanting him to make the switch to tackle. It’s a decision that O’Hara wasn’t fond with at first, but one that’s he’s been warming up to as time moves on.
“The more I think about, at first, I didn’t want to do it,” said O’Hara. “But when looking at things in a long-distance sense, if they make me a beast then I’ll play left tackle.”
As football continues to evolve to a more passing centric game the left tackle position, primarily responsible for protecting the quarterback’s blind side, has evolved to arguably the second most important position in the sport behind the quarterback itself. Case in point: a decision to move someone to left tackle is not one that any program, let alone one of the nation’s best in Penn State, would make lightly.
Part of the reasoning for the switch can be chalked to his already strong blocking skills as a tight end. It should make for an easier transition than if he were primarily a receiving tight end, although that’s a skill O’Hara also excels at the high school level. But the larger reason is due to his frame, a trait that Rizzo said was his favorite from O’Hara.
“His frame is where I would start,” said Rizzo. “He’s an incredibly blessed athlete.”
Incredibly blessed as a 6-foot-6, 245-lbs tight end as a junior in high school. His height is right in the ideal spot for a left tackle, but a switch to left tackle would require him to add 50-60 lbs. and get closer to the 300-lb mark. O’Hara’s goal is to start at the college level by the time he’s a sophomore, so bulking up to 300-lbs in a three-year span isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
But left tackle is just one of three he’s being recruited for. Pitt wants him to be a tight end, and why not? In addition to the blocking skills Rizzo raved about, O’Hara possesses quickness and speed from the tight end spot that was highlighted by a 74-yard touchdown reception in his game against Highlands.
And with other schools wanting him for his defensive end ability, O’Hara also registered a sack in that game, he’s going to have both his pick of position and college at the next level. However, he denied that his position will play a factor in determining his college. O’Hara said his decision will come down to academics and the size of the program itself.
“I’m looking for a good academic school, that’s a big thing for me,” said O’Hara. “But also, a big crowd, because I just like playing in front of people.”
The academic factor should come as no surprise to those who know O’Hara, who wants to major in sports medicine. Rizzo praised the juniors off the field intangibles. He said his North Catholic program strives to build good-natured followers of Christ, and that O’Hara is a great reflection of that. He described O’Hara as a leader and someone who isn’t focused on the individual attention he receives, but instead on what his team can accomplish this season.
And those traits can be noticed by talking with O’Hara. His mind was more focused on his team’s recent win and his junior homecoming dance the next night, as opposed to watching the Backyard Brawl, a big game between two schools that have offered him. Even when talking about the offers he’s received, he mentioned just focusing on having a good season and more could come, not necessarily concerned with the looming college decision.
For that decision though, he’s currently been offered by Connecticut, Penn State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Wisconsin. As a four-star junior athlete, it’s reasonable to assume more will come with time. And likely one or two that come in, could be a serious contender for his talents.
Currently though, he mentioned no favorite to me, but was quick to mention both Pitt and Penn State as schools he’d like to schedule official visits too. Primarily because they’re local and treat him like family. He also mentioned Wisconsin as a school he’d like to visit since they offered him early, he said they were his second offer.
With his decision, O’Hara does have a lot to think about. Academics, family environment, game day atmosphere, and what position he will play are all considerations he can make. His next college could determine a potential path to the NFL as a TE, LT, or DE.
Whatever he decides one thing can be certain, is that his next program will certainly appreciate the North Catholic off-the-field intangibles that have made him one of the top prospects in WPIAL.