Aside from the transfer of quarterback Justin Fields, freshman defensive end Zach Harrison was Ohio State head coach Ryan Day’s prize recruit in the 2019 signing class.
Harrison was a 5-star prospect from Central Ohio who was torn between the Buckeyes, Michigan, and Penn State.
Eventually, he signed with Ohio State, and the rest is history.
That history has now given way to the present and future, however, and both timelines are caked with potential.
Harrison enrolled early. Highly touted, he was still seen as a bit of a project. During winter workouts and spring football, however, it became clear that he wasn’t as raw as people thought.
He grew quickly, showcasing his abilities in workouts. Then came practice, where he flashed all of the potential a coach could ever want in a defensive end.
More importantly, however, he listened, he learned, and he applied what he was being taught.
He lost his black stripe in the spring, which is a rarity.
Not bad for somebody so raw.
Spring camp was extremely productive for Harrison, and it has given him a head start on fall camp.
But he didn’t just sit by, waiting for fall camp to begin next Friday.
He’s been working out like everyone else, drilling, studying, and getting noticeably better.
“Yeah. In the spring, he was just coming in. Being fresh and new, you don’t really know how to take it,” senior defensive end Jonathon Cooper said. “You don’t really know how to go hard or what the expectations are at Ohio State. It’s hard. But I think he’s in a more comfortable spot and more comfortable with being around us and accepting us as his older brothers. He’s going extremely hard, and I’m proud of the guy. I’m happy for him.”
That growth has become intertwined with his natural abilities.
Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 255 pounds, he certainly looks the part of a defensive end.
One year ago, however, he ran a 4.45 and a 4.47 at a July combine, and his personal best in the 100 meters is 10.78.
Maybe he was never all that raw, it’s just that people couldn’t stop looking at the stopwatch long enough to watch him play defensive end.
He is still an incoming freshman, of course, which makes him somewhat of a blank slate.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson has begun work on filling that slate with plenty of teachings, and he is not the only one. Position coaches, strength coaches, teammates, and the head coach are all doing their part to help Zach Harrison grow as a player.
The results have been easy to see.
And he’s just getting started.
“Zach has made huge strides,” Cooper said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the guy. He’s an extremely hard worker and he’s a great kid. He listens and he goes extremely hard. That’s all you can really ask of a freshman right now. I have big expectations for him.”