Long before Jonathon Cooper went down for an undisclosed period of time with an undisclosed injury in fall camp, and long before sophomore defensive ends Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday were determined to be game-time decisions for Saturday’s game, true freshman defensive end Zach Harrison showed enough in his first eight months or so on campus to earn some playing time this year.
“Yeah, Zach will play for sure,” head coach Ryan Day said on Friday, repeating what he has been saying all along.
In high school, Harrison’s unique measurables required double takes and recalibrations.
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds as a blue-chip recruit, Harrison was timed in the rarefied air of the high 4.4s. If you watch his high school film, you’ll see a guy with a reach so expansive that his nickname should be The Illuminati.
But stopwatches can only measure time, and highlights only show the good plays.
Neither measures the most important trait — the desire to make it happen.
Zach Harrison came to Ohio State as an incredible athlete with folklorish measurables, but that’s not what is going to get him on the field Saturday.
“The thing that surprised us when he got here is just really how mature he was in his approach,” Day said. “Play tough, practice tough, practice hard, had a very mature approach about him. And so I think his ceiling is through the roof. And now he’s going to get some experience.”
The Zach Harrison Experience Begins Saturday
Harrison was always going to play against Florida Atlantic, but an injury to starting defensive end Jonathon Cooper has gotten him one step closer to the field.
Add in the possible unavailability of sophomore defensive ends Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday, and Harrison’s potential number of snaps continues to climb.
Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Jashon Cornell will move back to defensive end, which is where he played last year. If Friday and Smith can make it on the field Saturday, perhaps Cornell stays inside.
Less than 20 hours from kickoff and there are still questions waiting for answers.
What is known, however, is that Zach Harrison won’t have to wait long to get his career underway on Saturday.
This Is Where the Game Is Going
Both Tyler Friday and Tyreke Smith have been compared to former Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis. They are similar in stature — around 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds — and they get by with grit, strength, talent, and technique. Every team has similar-looking players, though they may not be similar in terms of talent.
According to Ryan Day, Harrison is the wave of the future on the football field.
“I think the defensive end position is changing every five years,” he said. “And the longer body types, they almost look like big basketball players now and he has that body type and he has the athleticism.”
You’ll get to see that athleticism on Saturday, and Ryan Day can’t wait to see him out on the field.
“He’s ready at the beginning of his career,” he said. “He’s got a huge ceiling; the more he plays the better he’ll get.