The Hurry Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.
TORN BETWEEN RIVALS
Olentangy Orange five-star defensive end Zach Harrison took official visits to Ohio State and Michigan last month with the idea that it would push one school to the forefront of his recruitment. It actually did the exact opposite.
“I’m more confused than I’ve ever been,” Harrison told reporters gathered at The Opening Finals on Sunday afternoon. “I just had a great time on both visits.”
The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Harrison has shown time and time again why he’s a can’t-miss prospect for the Buckeyes, who are facing the possibility of losing the state’s top-rated player for the second-consecutive year. But unlike last cycle, when Fairfield five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman picked Clemson, Harrison is also considering the program’s biggest rival.
“They’re really not contrasting at all. They’re really similar,” Harrison said. “If you get inside the programs and get to know them, they’re very similar programs. They run a similar ship. They’re both good programs with good history, good academics, good defensive line coaches and good head coaches. They’re just great in similar ways.”
The fact that Harrison grew up just 20 minutes away and has been to campus more times than any other school isn’t going to be enough for Ohio State. Instead, the Buckeyes hope his relationship with and the opportunity to play for and be developed by defensive line coach Larry Johnson ultimately swings things in their favor.
"Coach J is the best defensive line coach in college football, if not college football history," Harrison said. "So that's a big thing for me. I have a good relationship with him. He talks to my mom a lot and my family, which is important to me. I like Coach J. [Ohio State is] already proven. Coach J is a big reason why I’d go there, it’s my hometown school. Those are the reasons [to pick the Buckeyes], pretty much.”
Carman once noted he would have committed to Ohio State if the program were in another state. Harrison didn’t quite paint the same picture, but acknowledged the allure of getting away from home.
“There are positives and negatives [of being from Columbus],” Harrison said. “The positives are that I'd be the hometown hero. Everybody loves Ohio State. Who is not a Buckeye that lives 20 minutes from Ohio State? It’s also negative because sometimes you just wanna get away from home and be on your own a little bit. When your parents are 20 minutes away, that's kind of hard to do."
Ann Arbor is just far enough away from home that it would allow Harrison to spread his wings, but still close enough that his parents could visit regularly and still watch him play in person. He also gets along with the Wolverines’ staff and current players really well.
“I love coach [Al] Washington. He’s a good dude and a big family man,” Harrison said. “The education is great there. The players, I love them. They’re building something special up there. I like the strength staff there. I like coach [Jim] Harbaugh, I think he’s a good dude.”
Harrison understands the long-lasting ramifications of picking Michigan over Ohio State, but that doesn’t matter to him. He’s simply making the best decision for himself — not his family, fans or friends. Harrison still plans to make a decision on his birthday, Aug. 14, and won’t take any more visits between now and that date.
“I have everything I need. I just gotta sit down and work it all out,” Harrison said. “If I knew the answer, I’d be committed by now. I have no idea.”
Scottsdale, Arizona, Chaparral four-star quarterback Jack Miller III committed to Ohio State on Sunday afternoon, a little over a week after he took an unofficial visit with his parents and sisters for Friday Night Lights.
“It was just the relationships with the coaches and the culture of the place,” Miller told Eleven Warriors. “I wanted to go somewhere that has a lot of tradition and a lot of history, especially one with a great coaching staff. It just really felt like home to me.”
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Miller has grown exceptionally close to Meyer and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day in the year since the staff offered him a scholarship. He actually decided he wanted to be a Buckeye during his first visit for a one-day camp last summer, and a return trip for the Penn State game in October solidified the program’s standing as his top school.
“I really knew this was the place I wanted to be,” Miller said. “I knew I still wanted to take visits, but other places were going to have to beat Ohio State. I always compared every visit to Ohio State. How great everyone is, how great the team I’ll be playing with is and the stuff like Real Life Wednesdays, which prepares players for life after football. There’s no other program in the country that offers that.”
That includes Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC. The Spartans and Tigers did give him some pause, however.
“I really liked the coaching staff at Michigan State. Everything there was super good,” Miller said. “LSU, too. It was awesome. The environment was great, but in the end, they didn’t have what Ohio State has.”
During his visit for Friday Night Lights, Miller informed the staff that he had some news for them in the coming days — depending on how his trip with the Crimson Tide went the next day.
“As soon as I got done with that visit, I called coach Day and just told him I was ready to be a Buckeye,” Miller said.
Miller, who is considered the third-best pro-style quarterback and No. 47 prospect overall in the Class of 2020, isn’t concerned how the staff will use his unique talents. In fact, that was discussed the first time he sat down with Day.
“He said, ‘I know you think we’re going to be running our quarterback a ton.’ I didn’t even have to ask,” Miller said. “He just explained it all to me and my dad. He showed us the whole offense and the kind of stuff that they’re going to be doing, which is just looking at the quarterback’s strengths. ‘J.T. [Barrett] can run the ball, so we’re going to run him because that gives us the best chance to win.’ With Dwayne, they’re kind of changing the offense and tailoring it to his arm more. I think I can do both and that I’m pretty balanced and a good mix of both.”
Naturally, there are concerns about accepting a commitment from a quarterback this early in the process. After all, the three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster were all once committed to another program, while 2019 four-star commit Dwan Mathis just flipped from Michigan State last weekend. Quarterback recruiting is a fickle beast, but Miller is 100 percent committed to Ohio State and is actively recruiting other players in his class to join him..
“Jake [Wray], Lejond [Cavazos], Paris [Johnson Jr.] and I are already talking to a bunch of kids in our class, trying to get them to hop on board with us. We have so many options and there are so many good kids in our class,” Miller said, explaining his pitch in the process. “There’s no place like Ohio State. You’re going to be prepared on the field, you’re going to have a bunch of great experiences off the field. A lot of people don’t realize, the off-the-field stuff they have going is amazing. You’re going to be able to get a job if football doesn’t work out. You’re going to be able to do anything life really calls you to do.”
Damascus, Maryland, five-star defensive end Bryan Bresee included Ohio State in his Top 15 last week alongside Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, Texas A&M, USC, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Bresee — who is considered the top-rated player in the entire 2020 recruiting class — has been to campus three times in the last year and a half, including a one-day camp last summer and the aforementioned win over the Nittany Lions.
“The atmosphere [really stands out],” Bresee told Eleven Warriors during The Opening Finals, where he’s just one of seven unclassmen in attendance. “It’s a really good college town. Getting to work out that whole day [at camp] was a great experience for me.”
Bresee has built a strong relationship with Johnson, who’s faced retirement rumors over the last year. There's no denying his future significantly impact the Buckeyes’ chances.
“I hope coach Johnson stays there a while. That’ll really help me out if he does,” Bresee said. “I just want to get a better understanding of that. Once I do, it’ll clear things up for me.”
At this point in his recruitment, Bresee has no timeline for a decision. He is simply focused on visiting as many schools as he can.
“Once I find a school that I’m certain on, then I’ll do it,” Bresee said. “[It comes down to] the school in general, if I would like it if I wasn’t playing football there. The relationship with the coaching staff, too.”