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What does star defensive end Zach Harrison bring to Ohio State?

A whole lot.

Zach Harrison

After roughly three years of recruitment, Olentangy Orange defensive end Zach Harrison has finally put an end to one of the wildest recruiting cycles I’ve ever seen. The Columbus kid, after much deliberation, will stay home and play for the Buckeyes.

This is a huge deal, obviously, as just about everyone knows, but I think it’s important to talk about why exactly this is such a big deal. What makes Zach Harrison such a highly touted prospect? Is he worth all of the hype? The short answer to that is, well, yes, he’s worth the hype. He’s an elite, generational athlete, and he has the potential to be one of the best defensive linemen in Ohio State’s storied history. He’s that good.

So what exactly does that look like? What does Zach Harrison bring to Ohio State? Well, I’m glad you asked, dear reader.

On the field

The main thing that makes Zach so enticing, and the main thing you’ll see people talk about with Zach right now is his athleticism paired with his size. Harrison has the speed and mobility to play both ways for his high school, as a defensive end and as a wide receiver (!!!). He has the speed and mobility to be an elite track runner (10.78 100-meter personal record). Now, what happens if you put that kind of athletic ability into a 6-foot-6, 245 pound teen that could still add muscle to his frame without really losing any of that ability?

Oh, and what if you give him three years under the tutelage of Larry Johnson, arguably the best defensive line coach in the country? That’s why Zach Harrison is the No. 4 player in the 2019 class, and why he has five stars next to his name on every recruiting website. He has the potential to be a game changing player, and a future first overall NFL pick.

That’s potential though. And potential is most of Zach’s appeal right now. He’s a good player right now, don’t get me wrong, but he was never as dominant in high school as you’d expect from someone with his athletic ability. He had some injury issues, specifically in his senior year, but he rarely looked like the fourth best player in the country. He looked like someone who could be the fourth best player in the country, when given the right coaching.

He looked like an extremely talented teenager who doesn’t quite know what to do with all that talent yet. There were flashes of that limitless ceiling when he would blow past some poor offensive tackle, or just run right through anyone in his way, but he was never really consistently destructive at Olentangy Orange.

His hand technique is okay, not great, and for the most part, he’s beating guys because he’s faster than them. That won’t cut it at the next level. However, because of his awesome talent, and because he doesn’t really have any bad habits (he doesn’t really have any habits), he’s the perfect prospect for Larry Johnson to mold and form into an unstoppable pass rusher. I think one summer with Mickey Marotti and Larry Johnson would do wonders for Harrison, and luckily for, well, everyone involved, he’s gonna get three. That could produce some pretty devastating results.

In the class

Harrison is the 15th member of Ohio State’s 2019 class, and either the second or third defensive end, depending on what Ohio State wants to do with Cade Stover (Noah Potter will for sure be on the line though). He’s the third five-star recruit for the Buckeyes in this cycle, along with receiver Garrett Wilson and center Harry Miller.

This pledge brings the Buckeyes to 14th in the national rankings right as the Early Signing period hits, and with Harrison now signed, I don’t imagine that the Buckeyes, even with a small class, finish anywhere below 15th in the final rankings.

This recruitment was a battle the whole way, and while the jury is still out on Ryan Day overall (because we haven’t actually seen him run a team yet), to land Harrison over Michigan and Penn State a fantastic first impression, and should tell us quite a bit about Day’s recruiting ability. Plenty of Buckeye fans were worried, for good reason, about a potential recruiting drop off from Meyer to Day, and while that could still be the case, I think this commitment should calm those nerves a little bit. Ohio State seems to be in good hands.