Bearcat football fans need to learn how to pronounce Haruki Nakamura. They'll be hearing about him and talking about him a lot in the upcoming season. By the way it's pronounced (hah-ROOK-ee, nahkah-MURE-ah) according to the media guide.
This young man is dynamite in a 5' 10" 185 pound package. He has used his quick feet and big hits to claim the free safety job , and it will likely take a Herculean effort for someone to unseat this smallish kid with the unusual name.
Haruki came to UC from Lakewood St. Ed's, but the Bearcats originally showed no interest. The MAC schools were his biggest suitors including Ball State. Coach Treadwell happened to be recruiting Haruki for the Cardinals. This is where fate stepped into the process. Coach Minter was fired, Coach Dantonio was hired, and Coach Treadwell defected to UC. Haruki liked Coach Treadwell, and after meeting Coach Dantonio decided Clifton was the place for him. "I had gotten close to Coach Treadwell when he was recruiting me at Ball State. Then I met Coach Dantonio, and he seemed like a great person. I was also very impressed and excited about playing in the Big East."
This Japanese/American family has produced more than just one fine athlete. Haruki's brother, Yoshi, was a gifted wrestler. He was good enough to be an alternate on the United States Olympic team at 153 pounds. Haruki looks to his brother as one of his role models. "My brother is the one that helps give me my leadership and toughness." But Haruki has just as much admiration for his mother. "I have the greatest mother. I love her to death. She's a role model to me along with my brother. My father died when I was young, and I watched my mother raise us. I admire her strength."
Last Saturday during a "hamburger" drill in practice, Haruki was one-on-one with Bradley Glatthaar. That time Haruki got the better of the meeting when he stood Bradley up and drove him out of bounds. Haruki remembered the play. "I don't really know how I did it. Brad is a big guy. I think it had a lot to do with the mentality the coaches try to instill in us. We just can't give up a score."
Being a defensive back, Haruki goes against Bearcat receivers and runners all the time. So who's the toughest receiver to cover? "All of them are tough, but I guess Ernie (Jackson) and (Derick) Ross." Who's the toughest runner to bring down? "All of them to be honest. Brad is so powerful. Delbert Ferguson has power and the ability to make you miss. Mike Daniels is more of a scat back. He has some great moves."
When asked, Haruki also gave his opinion on the hotly contested quarterback competition. "All the quarterbacks are doing a good job, but I'd give Dustin Grutza a slight edge. He's done a good job, and he's a good leader. Todd Spitzer is right behind him. Todd has a great arm. I'd put Davilla third. The reason I put him third is he's new to the offense."
Like many of his teammates, Haruki is a good student. "I just changed my major from education to business. I have a 3.0 GPA. Coach always stresses academics before athletics."
Haruki got a little banged up as a true freshman last season. He was hospitalized with an illness before the Ohio State game, suffered a concussion at the Syracuse game, and sprained an ankle before the South Florida game. He's never been injury prone and considers last season an aberration, but also concedes the college game was tougher than he thought. "The speed of the game is much different than high school. Everything is quicker and more intense. I'm trying to pay closer attention to the coaches and have better technique."
Say it with me. Haruki Nakamura, Haruki Nakamura. Practice up over the spring and fall. Trust me. You're going to be saying his name alot come September.