High school football fans around
the nation fill stadiums to see
great players make great plays.
But with each great play, there
is plenty of hard work that is
invested off the field – and
behind the scenes. we’ll attempt
to shed some light on the life of
a high school football player off
the field in our 24-7-365 series.
“I’VE WANTED TO BE A COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER SINCE I WAS A LITTLE KID. I WAS SERIOUS ABOUT THAT.”
— NEW MANCHESTER RB OMAHRI JARRETT.
OMAHRI JARRETT RECEIVED THE offer he was patiently waiting for — exactly what he incessantly worked to earn — in early June. Georgia Tech offered the senior running back from New Manchester High while on his first-ever visit to campus.
“Commit!” was the reaction pin-balling inside
his brain. The thought nearly formed into words
gushing out of his mouth. But he stopped.
He wanted his parents to have a say before
making the decision.
“They’re my support system,” Jarrett said. “It
was mainly what I wanted to do, but I wanted to
talk to them because they’re as much a part of
this as me.”
Of course, Jarrett’s stepdad and mother, Ro-
land and Christie Stephens, supported a pledge
to the Yellow Jackets. Distance from home,
academic reputation and Tech’s run-first, sec-
ond and sometimes third offensive philosophy
made for an easy call.
His parents couldn’t have been happier.
“Except, it was just kind of getting fun,” Ro-
land said. “It was kind of a treat to see the way
it was picking up.”
Less than a month before, Jarrett’s recruit-
ment was on the rise. If the ACC or the SEC was
to be his eventual landing spot was the question.
Jarrett showed out in New Manchester’s
spring game, taking a toss sweep over 80 yards
for a touchdown. Roland and Christie watched
from the stands, entertaining conversation with
a coach from Southern Mississippi and noting a
recruiter from Northern Illinois strolling up and
down the sideline.
Jarrett’s recruitment was a family-run operation from the beginning. It started with big
ambition from an early age.
“I’ve wanted to be a college football player
since I was a little kid,” Jarrett said. “I was seri-
ous about that.”
Jarrett’s sub- 4. 5 40-yard dash speed helped
make that goal achievable. His ability grew as
a sophomore. From there, it was time to hit the
camp and combine circuit and earn offers.
“Lots of long rides in the car,” Roland said.
They went together as a group to as many
events as possible, at one point interrupting a
family reunion trip to Virginia so Jarrett could
participate in an invite-only camp in Texas. Jarrett did well nearly everywhere he went. Offers
didn’t come though because other running
backs were doing well, too.
“It was frustrating because I was seeing the
same guys at every camp,” Jarrett said. “It was
always the same players picked for awards.”
Patience doesn’t describe the family’s reac-
tion. Pin it on persistence. A successful junior
season helped build momentum. Finally Geor-
gia State jumped — Jarrett had his first offer.
“It felt great because I knew no matter what else
happened I was going to play in college,” he said.
“After that, it was like a wave,” Roland said.
Appalachian State, Middle Tennessee State
and others joined the list. This changed the
scene. Instead of getting noticed, the process
evolved into a courtship. It was no longer Jarrett
trying to show out for coaches. It was the other
“You could tell who was really interested in
Omahri as a person by the way the coaches
talked to us and what they talked about,” Christie
said. “That was important to us. There were some
coaches that really cared about us, too, made
sure that we could trust sending him to them.”
Tech was up first. It was also the last. The visit
turned into a three-day affair, a full-court press
including academic tours and BBQ plates. It cul-
minated in great news — with Jarrett receiving
“It was really unexpected,” Roland said. “It all
happened so fast.”
After talking it out as a family later that night,
Jarrett slept on it and made it official the next day.
He reserved his place at Georgia Tech.
“We did it. He’s committed,” Roland said. “We
think it’s a great fit, and we couldn’t be happier.”
– fletcher Page
Influence behind the scenes
RB, New Manchester
Omahri Jarrett scores an
80-yard touchdown during
a spring scrimmage in front
of his parents and college