Under center and over the crib: Sac State quarterback balances football and fatherhood

‘Management and growth’ name of game in Asher O’Hara’s life


Isaac Streeter

Sac State starting quarterback Asher O’Hara, his girlfriend Savai Calloway and their son Elias O’Hara on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022 at Curtis Park in Land Park. The three moved from Tennessee to Sacramento to pursue O’Hara’s football career.

Isaac Streeter

Senior quarterback Asher O’Hara knows the responsibilities of being a Division I starting quarterback are vast. Countless hours of watching game film, practices, weight room sessions and commanding an offense– all the while being a student– are just the tip of the iceberg. 

O’Hara also knows the responsibilities of being a parent: sleepless nights, diapers and playtime. 

Juggling the two is no easy task, but O’Hara has found a balance as he helms the offense of the back-to-back Big Sky champion Sacramento State Hornets while raising his (almost) 2-year-old son Elias with his girlfriend Savai Calloway. 

“The past two years have been eventful, both on and off the field, but coming [to Sac State] has been nothing but a blessing,”O’Hara said.

A native of Rolling Meadows, Illinois, O’Hara attended junior college at College of DuPage, where he received three-star recruit status. In August 2018, he committed to play in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision for Middle Tennessee State University.

O’Hara saw little action as a backup for the 2018 season until taking on the starting role in 2019. He made a name for himself as a starter, becoming the second quarterback in school history to record 1,000 yards rushing, 2,600 yards through the air and 29 total touchdowns. 

O’Hara entered the 2020 season as the starting quarterback when life threw him three major curveballs. 



The first was the birth of his son, Elias Zyan O’Hara, welcomed with open arms by O’Hara and Savai on Oct. 14, 2020. 

The second was the COVID-19 pandemic, which greatly affected the landscape of college football, including at MTSU. After a slate of canceled and postponed games, MTSU voluntarily ended their season on Dec. 5, 2020. 

The third was electing to enter the transfer portal, which O’Hara did on Dec. 21, 2020. This decision came three weeks after the conclusion of the 2020 season and two months after Elias was born. 

How he ended up on the radar of head coach Troy Taylor and his staff is seemingly a coincidence, according to quarterbacks coach Bobby Fresques. Taylor reached out to another former UC Berkeley quarterbacks coach, Tony Franklin, O’Hara’s offensive coordinator at MTSU.

“[Coach Taylor] has a relationship with Franklin from Cal,”  Fresques said, adding that Franklin spoke highly of O’Hara’s dynamic play style as well as on-field experience. “Coach Taylor was reaching out to wish him well in retirement and Coach Franklin recommended [O’Hara] to coach.” 

On March 31, 2021, O’Hara signed to play football and continue his education at Sac State. Moving girlfriend Savai and then 5-month-old Elias from Tennessee to California. 

Splitting starting reps with fellow senior quarterback Jake Dunniway, O’Hara helped lead Sac State to its second consecutive Big Sky Championship after going undefeated in conference play in 2021. O’Hara also contributed 1,562 all-purpose yards and 16 total touchdowns. 

The performance in 2021 earned him First-Team All-Big Sky honors and 2022 Preseason All-Big Sky honors. 

Through all this, O’Hara kept an emphasis on still being a great father. According to him, time management and growth have been the name of the game.

“I think I’ve definitely grown a lot; being a dad and being a QB at the DI level is not easy,”O’Hara said. ”Managing my time is not easy, but I found that sweet spot of things like watching film and still being a good dad.” 

O’Hara describes his son Elias as his mini-me. Elias, who will be two in October, is described by his parents as a very mature and respectful kid, a picky eater and a lover of sports. They say Elias is still too young to recognize his dad on the field consistently, but when he can, he gets very excited.  

Despite his dad’s success as a football player, the two agree that there’s no pressure on Elias to follow in his footsteps. 

“Soccer is what [Elias] does all day every day. He has a soccer ball that he kicks constantly,” Savai said.

The two have also acknowledged the sacrifices that come with commitments to football and parenthood. Savai works a night shift and sacrificed finishing her college degree to help O’Hara chase his dream, saying she “had to rise to the occasion.” 

O’Hara compares the difficulties to being down big in a football game but always posturing himself as if he’s winning– a quality of leadership he hopes his son will be able to recognize in him. 

Success has followed O’Hara wherever he has gone. However, it cannot always be achieved alone in football and parenting. As the Hornets improve to 2-0 on the season and Elias’s second birthday is on the horizon, O’Hara said he wouldn’t be able to accomplish any of it without his support system. 

“I’ve grown a lot as a man, and I thank my family, friends and girlfriend for helping me get to this point.”