Better Know a Buckeye: Malik Harrison

By Vico on August 5, 2016 at 10:10 am
Malik Harrison on signing day
Phot via nbc4i

Our "Better Know a Buckeye" series continues with its 25th and final installment for the year. We profile Malik Harrison, an athlete/linebacker from Walnut Ridge High School in Columbus.

Malik Harrison

  • Size: 6-3/228
  • Position: LB
  • Hometown (School): Columbus, OH (Walnut Ridge)
  • 247 Composite: ★★★
  • National Ranking: 684
  • Position Ranking: 49 (ATH)
  • State Ranking: 26 (OH)

Malik Harrison was a late target for Ohio State despite Harrison letting coaches know he wanted to earn a scholarship offer. He earned his offer on Dec. 4 with just two months before signing day. He explored late interest from Michigan State and Syracuse and even took prior visits to Indiana and Wisconsin before staying home with the Buckeyes on signing day.

I retell Harrison's recruitment below and discuss the reasons for his commitment. Thereafter, I provide a scouting report for an athletic prospect who could play both linebacker and wide receiver, but will likely play the former for Ohio State. I provide a projection that Harrison will redshirt and close with a highlight film from his senior year.


Malik Harrison enters Ohio State's recruiting radar late into the 2016 recruiting cycle. He received a scholarship offer on Dec. 4 last year with just two months to go before signing day. The late-blooming prospect and three-year starting Walnut Ridge quarterback accumulated offers from Iowa and Wisconsin in April and interest from Michigan State and Syracuse late into the recruiting cycle.

Onlookers who had known of Harrison were surprised he did not commit on the spot. He had participated in Friday Night Lights that year, sending a strong signal that he wanted an offer from the Buckeyes. He had researched for a high school paper who was the last City League player to earn a scholarship offer from Ohio State (Verlon Reed, 2010). This was ultimately the scholarship offer he wanted.

Harrison chose to wait and hear his other options. He hosted an assistant from Indiana, which had also hosted him on an official visit in November. He looked into new interest from programs like Michigan State and Syracuse and planned official visits for after his mid-January visit across town to Ohio State. However, he chose to cancel planned visits to East Lansing and Syracuse after his Ohio State visit. He chose to focus on just Indiana, Ohio State, and Wisconsin before an announcement he planned for signing day.

His recruitment was effectively a forgone conclusion after that point. Luke Fickell and Tony Alford visited Walnut Ridge to watch him play basketball for the Scots. Few doubted the signing day decision to follow.


Malik Harrison committed to Ohio State on signing day as the final member of Ohio State's recruiting class. He was the first City League signee for Ohio State since 2010 and the first from Walnut Ridge since 1995 (Eric Smith, 1995).

The rationale behind the decision was straightforward. Malik Harrison idolized Ohio State as a kid and grew up watching the football program. He would tell his dad that he would be a Buckeye when it came time to go to college. Ohio State's football program not only presented him the opportunity of college admission, but a full scholarship.

Harrison chose Ohio State over a handful of offers, including earlier offers from programs like Illinois and Pittsburgh.


Recruiting services list Harrison as an athlete. He could play either side of the ball and would most like to play wide receiver. It's more likely he becomes a linebacker at Ohio State, which will be how this section evaluates him.

Analysts judge "athlete" prospects based on their athleticism, which sounds uninformative even if just communicates a banal statement about the importance of a prospect's overall athletic ability. Harrison stacks up well in this regard. His highlight film shows a prospect with an ideal frame (6-3, 228 pounds) capable of hurdling defenders, running through tackles, and creating angles for himself on either side of the ball. He is also a capable basketball player with an incredible vertical for his size. Watch for Harrison on special teams since that should be where he makes his first impact.

Harrison started to play both ways as an upperclassman, so there is not a lot on which to evaluate him as a defensive player. He does demonstrate a decent burst off the line of scrimmage as an end rusher and shows a great lateral ability for a prospect without a lot of experience on defense. He can chase sideline to sideline.


Harrison is an athletic prospect who could play wide receiver. He actually has good ball skills for a potential wide receiver and it is where he would love to play if it were his call. However, he's ultimately a player without a position right now and without a lot of experience on defense.

It shows in the little stuff that is important for the position. He plays way too high when he is on defense. He tackles hard, but tackles high. He will ultimately need to learn to become a linebacker after two years of occasionally playing that position.


A redshirt for Harrison is a forgone conclusion unless he demonstrates an uncanny ability on special teams in camp that Ohio State's coaches evaluate to be good to pass until 2017.


Here are senior-year highlights for Malik Harrison.


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