Ryan Harris.

First Person With Ryan Harris

Nov. 12, 2004

Playing football at Notre Dame is the most indescribable experience I think I’ll ever encounter. I sometimes forget about how lucky I am to be here with the school’s tradition, but I know what a tremendous opportunity I have here.

As an offensive lineman, we get used to not being in the spotlight. Actually we try to avoid it. Usually the only time your name is brought up is if you do something negative, like give up a sack. Our mindset is to get the job done and stay out of the papers. That means you’re doing a good job. As long as no one is talking about you, you’re usually okay.

Skill and technique are the keys to being successful on the offensive line. There’s a lot of pressure out there because if you mess up, everyone knows it. It’s funny, because you can beat someone 76 plays in a row and if they beat you on play 77, that’s the play that people will remember.

To be a successful offensive lineman, you have to be the ultimate team player. We aren’t looking for the publicity, but we really enjoy it when we see one of our running backs on Sportscenter, breaking a big run or scoring a touchdown. We know how they got there.

The key to the success of the offensive line is our ability to work together. We are the one unit on the team that has to work together to be successful. If we don’t play as one, nothing’s going to happen on offense. If one guy messes up on defense, two or three others can make a good play and it’s still a great play for the defense. One guy messes up on the offensive line and it’s a horrible play for the offense.

As a unit, we try to do things together off the field to help us get a feel for each other to build that trust with each other. On the field, you know what the person next to you is going to do. You get to know his resolve and commitment to the program by hanging out with him off the field.

It’s funny, but in high school, the offensive linemen were, more often than not, the biggest and nastiest and most out-of-place guys in the school. When you get here, there are ten to fifteen guys just like you. There’s a lot of camaraderie especially when we go out to eat. There’s nothing like going out to eat with the offensive linemen. We raid a pizzeria or take advantage of the Olive Garden’s all-you-can-eat pasta.

People forget just how smart offensive linemen are. We always tell the other players that we are the skill players and everyone else is unskilled. The other guys laugh at that. We are making strides though. They threw me a pass this year against Michigan.

It’s something that comes with football. Linemen are always seen as unskilled players, but it’s widely known and has been printed in Sports Illustrated that offensive linemen are the smartest people on the team. So that’s kind of where we rest in that conversation.

Since this is the final game of the home schedule, I’d like to thank the fans who have been behind us all year. Believe me, we hear you. There is no price that can be put on your support.

Enjoy the game and GO IRISH!

Ryan Harris