Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ryan Day and Larry Johnson delivered in a big way this afternoon when five-star defensive end Zach Harrison signed with Ohio State over Michigan and Penn State. The Lewis Center pass rusher had been the Buckeyes' top 2019 target throughout the entire cycle but keeping the state's top prospect in Columbus was far from an easy task.
We take a closer look at what the commitment from the nation's No. 4 prospect means for the Buckeyes' 2019 recruiting class.
On The Field
Zach Harrison simply has the look of a pass rusher. He's nearly 6-foot-6 and 243 pounds with an impressive long frame. He did battle some injuries during his senior year, but there's no question that all of the tools are there for him to develop into an elite defensive end under Larry Johnson's tutelage.
As far as his athleticism and testing numbers, they are absolutely off the charts. Harrison is a physical marvel and while he was in Frisco, Texas competing in The Opening Finals, he recorded a blistering 4.47-second 40-yard dash. He's also become a bit of a legend on the track circuit as he clocked a 10.78 100-meter dash and 21.55 in the 200 last spring.
DE Zach Harrison is a freak. 66 245 pounds coming in 2nd during a fastest man race. pic.twitter.com/j4Ngg1Er3v— Luke Stampini (@LukeStampini) July 2, 2018
The five-star certainly could add 20+ pounds to his frame in the coming years, and it's truly scary to think about what he may become under Johnson's leadership. Harrison has noted on multiple occasions that he recognizes Ohio State's defensive line coach as the best in America, and now he's going to have the opportunity to be developed by the best.
His player comparison according to 247Sports? Jadeveon Clowney
In the Class
The Harrison signing gives the Buckeyes a pair of in-state defensive ends with Mentor's Noah Potter also heading to Columbus. The expectation has long been that Ohio State could take up to three players at the position for 2019, and that may still be the case as Lexington outside linebacker Cade Stover could end up growing into more of a pass rusher.
Needless to say, Harrison's athleticism isn't something the Buckeyes – and really very other teams – have on their current roster. He's still fairly raw and will need to develop as a pass rusher, but he likely won't be asked to contribute much right off the bat. Chase Young will be a junior in 2019 while both Jonathon Cooper and Jashon Cornell will be seniors. Tyler Friday and Tyreke Smith both saw playing time as true freshmen in 2018.
Harrison's sophomore year was when he really started to grow to the point where he was towering over many of his teammates. Olentangy Orange head coach Zebb Schroeder also noted that this was around the time he really started to lead by example and understood that his teammates were really looking up to him.
“One of the college coaches was in this winter and asked me about him,” recalled Schroeder. “I almost felt I was giving him all the answers he wanted to hear, but they are all the truth. Does he take his academics seriously? Check. Does he love the weight room? Check. Does he love the details and fundamentals of the position? check. All those the intangibles are in place for him to be one of the special kids in his class.” Via
Outside of his own team, one also has to be impressed with how his recruitment was handled. Harrison avoided the spotlight as much as possible and oftentimes seemed to actually dash off the field following games simply to avoid all of the fanfare surrounding his eventual college choice. It's extremely rare to see a top-10 national talent who hardly even speaks to the media.
He's obviously been on Ohio State's campus plenty of times and has made it up for the Buckeyes' "Real Life Wednesdays" that have become a popular event for the players to interact with various companies to learn more about what's out there beyond just football. Harrison has also been offered by Stanford and Schroeder has unsurprisingly had plenty of good things to say about his academic standing as well.
Overall, he was meticulous with the process and visited each of his final three schools on multiple occasions. There were stories about him wanting to get away from home, but he obviously decided that the local program was the best option for himself, his family, and his future.