In 2013, Urban Meyer instituted “The Chase” at Ohio State. It was a mantra, a goal, focused on reaching the pinnacle of college football. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, that Chase fell short one December night in Indianapolis. In 2014, they went with The Chase again and this time the rallying cry paid off with a national championship.
In 2017, the Buckeyes signed 5-star defensive end Chase Young. He was a reserve his freshman season but was in the starting lineup as a sophomore. As a junior, he is looking like a possible Top 10 NFL Draft pick.
Be it The Chase or Chase Young, chases are nothing new at Ohio State. But looking back — even though “chase” is an action word — chases don’t necessarily move as fast as some of us would like.
The good news for you, however, is that with freshman defensive end Zach Harrison around now, maybe some of those chases won’t take so long to reach their respective end points.
At least in terms of chasing the football, that is.
“Zach Harrison. Man, when I tell you he’s somebody who can run to the ball…” began senior defensive tackle Jashon Cornell. “Yesterday we were watching practice film. He ran 60 yards and caught the running back from behind. Yeah.”
Like Clark Griswold basking in the glory of his flight path in the family truckster.
Defensive ends are supposed to stop running backs. We know this. Generally, however, it happens near the line of scrimmage. With an angle, those tackles can also happen 15-20 yards downfield.
But 60 yards? That’s just a different level of hustle, ability, and speed.
“He keeps making progress every day,” said sophomore defensive end Tyler Friday. “That’s something that I like about him. I’m very excited for him. He’s a big athletic kid. I think he ran a 4.4 or something like that. Running that at D-end is always an advantage, so I’m very excited for Zach.”
Because of his unique athleticism, Harrison has been thought by many to be a diamond in the rough. After getting him under the light, however, it’s clear that he already has plenty of polish.
He responded quickly to the winter workouts, then made some tremendous plays in the spring.
Consistency and focus are going to be important for freshmen, and it’s no different for Zach Harrison. But with increased opportunities comes constant improvement and continued production.
So far, Harrison is looking very much like the 5-star prospect he was in high school. He is only going to get better, and his chase is already hitting home.
“Zach has made so much improvement,” said defensive line coach Larry Johnson. “I said this from day one, from high school to where he is right now today is a 360. He’s a different player than what he was in high school.
“That’s cool because he’s grown. He’s tough, he’s physical, he’s smart, and he can run like the wind and he loves where he’s at right now. He’s got a chance to be a good player if you continue to develop and I think he will.”
As long as Zach Harrison continues to chase the football with the effort he has shown in practice, he’ll find a whole lot more than just the ball carrier. He will find more and more playing time as well.