Skull Session: Zach Harrison's Refreshing Recruitment, Justin Fields' Potential at Ohio State, and Lost Recruiting Battles

By Kevin Harrish on December 20, 2018 at 4:59 am
Ryan Day is pleased about his first recruiting class in today's Skull Session.

If you're perusing the 'ole recruiting rankings on this fine morning after teen fax day, you'll find the Buckeyes a bit lower than their usual spot in the top five. This year, they're a bit lower at No. 12.

But don't you fret!

See, this is not a bad recruiting class by any means, it's just a small one. Ohio State signed just 15 players in the class and hold 16 commits, giving them the smallest class out of the top 30.

But on an average recruit basis, the Buckeyes actually reeled in the nation's third-best class, and is right on par with Ohio State's previous monster classes.

All is well.


Word of the Day: Diffident.

 IT HAPPENED. One of the most physically impressive individuals I've ever seen will be playing for my alma mater for at least the next three seasons, which is a stellar thing that happened yesterday.

The first time I ever heard about Zach Harrison, I had a hard time believing he was real. Folks were telling me about this kid who was 6-6, 240 lbs. who ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and was the anchor in his 4x100 relay – in tennis shoes, because they didn't make track spikes in his size.

That didn't sound like a 17-year-old that existed in the same city as me, it sounded like a tall tale in the same realm of "reality" as Paul Bunyan, John Henry or D.J. Byrnes.

But then I saw this photograph:

That is the point when I realized that Zach Harrison was extremely real.

My fascination only grew when I realized this fellow – who I'm not convinced you could accurately recreate in NCAA's Road to Glory mode, because it would be unrealistic – hated all the attention and even had all his social media accounts set to private.

His entire recruitment was a breath of fresh air. He had generational athleticism, but was totally uninterested in being anything besides a kid playing a sport and deciding where he wants to go to college. And he thought it was weird that anyone thought he should be anything else.

Harrison never strayed from who he is as a person and played the recruiting game by his own rules. And I respect everything about that.

I also extremely appreciate that he's going to be playing for my team instead of the other team, and so does Larry Johnson:

 HOW GOOD IS JUSTIN FIELDS? To many of y'all, the name "Justin Fields" probably popped up out of nowhere the past few days and you're now wondering why everyone's talking about this Georgia backup like he's the next coming of Vince Young.

It's totally fair that you might not know much about him, but I'd urge you to consider the fact that he could still be extremely, extremely good.

From Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade:

When Matt Dickmann, who coached Fields at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Ga., was asked to describe Fields’ style of play, he spoke uninterrupted for 2 minutes, 37 seconds.

“What [Ohio State] would get — and you don’t get this all the time — is a player that completely checks every box,” said Dickmann, a Napoleon native and 1987 University of Toledo graduate. “One of the things that separates him from other quarterbacks is how intellectual he is, how articulate he is, and how he can study stuff and not forget it. He rarely makes the same mistake twice. He would diagnose why he made a mistake by the time he reached the sideline.”


There has been speculation about how he would fit into a Ryan Day offense. The offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and soon-to-be Ohio State head coach has targeted pass-first quarterbacks in recruiting and molded Haskins into a possible top-10 NFL draft pick.

“[Fields] would fit in very well with what Ohio State is doing,” Dickmann said.

Arm strength and accuracy aren’t weaknesses. Fields is comfortable making any throw that’s asked, while his legs serve as an additional component. Dickmann said when Fields operated run-pass options, he made the right decision 99 percent of the time.

I don't mean for this to sound ridiculously hyperbolic – and it's going to – but I remember in the midst of #QBGeddon, a popular #take was "I wish we could just roll Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones into one quarterback!"

Folks, behold:

I mean no disrespect to Tate Martell. Those who know me know I've been #TeamTate since before he even had an Ohio State offer, but if Fields comes to Ohio State and gets immediate eligibility, he's absolutely going to be the starter next season. 

That's not shade at Martell, who was the Gatorade Player of the Year, never lost a game as a starter in high school and was the No. 2 dual threat quarterback in the class, behind only Tua Tagovailoa. It's just how good Fields is.

I don't know for sure if the Buckeyes are going to land him, but I do know for sure they're going to try their best. And they should, because he's the best football player available right now.

And I've seen a lot of #takes about how this would affect the locker room. You know what's good for a locker room? Winning.

 THE LOST BATTLES. As good as things went yesterday, not everything was perfect. Ohio State lost two commitments as cornerback Jordan Battle flipped to Alabama and quarterback Dwan Mathis flipped to Georgia.

For Battle, it just seems like he was never really sold after Urban Meyer announced his retirement.

From David Wilson of the Miami Herald:

It all opened up for him when Urban Meyer announced he was retiring once again. This was the coach Battle initially committed to and, last Wednesday, the four-star safety told incoming coach Ryan Day he would be taking a look at other options. Day, who is currently Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, came down to visit Battle, but the defensive back was set on Alabama by the start of the week.

That stings for the Buckeyes, because he was the lone cornerback in the class – their top target – and now it's too late in the process to do much about it. But it makes sense.

Mathis' flip makes significantly less sense. I'm not sure the kid has ever been to the state of Georgia in his life, much less visited the campus and thought long and hard about spending his college career there.

But it also might sting a bit less, especially if Ohio State can land Fields.

All things considered, Ohio State lost just two commitments in the class after the retirement announcement of an all-time great coach and added the fourth highest-rated prospect in program history along with a three-star defensive tackle.

It's tough to ask for much better than that.

 ALL-NAME TEAM. While y'all are lamenting the decommitments of Jordan Battle and Dwan Mathis, I'm absolutely furious the Buckeyes were never even involved in the recruitment of a fellow by the name of Storm Duck.

They did make my heart smile by at least signing Steele Chambers, which is one hell of a name, but how the hell did Storm Duck slip through the cracks?

I understand that they're limited to 85 scholarships and they have to be selective while who they take, but a name like Storm Duck comes once a generation. I'm pained.

 BEST SIGNING DAY MOMENTS. First, I appreciate Colin giving us a little look behind the curtain here. He also told me Jacoby has never even seen a fax machine, which destroyed everything I thought I knew about teen fax day.

And the most Stanford thing ever, a player performing with his jazz band immediately after signing his letter of intent:

And then there was Coach O, screaming at folks for being loud during his press conference, which was on the football field during what looks like a practice, for some reason.

But this absolutely takes the crown:

Now get the dust out of your eyes and have a happy Thursday.

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