COLUMBUS — The physical upside of Zach Harrison has always been immediately apparent.
But that didn’t necessarily make him a can’t-miss, surefire superstar to everybody at Ohio State, at least not during his initial recruitment.
Yes, Harrison was blessed with freakish athleticism. Watching him run track was a sight to behold considering his size. And he certainly wasn’t pegged as a five-star defensive end by accident.
But strength coach Mickey Marotti wasn’t completely sold on Harrison during his first meetings with him and struggled to get a read on his personality, work ethic and desire to be great. But that quickly changed once Harrison arrived on campus, proving in a hurry that he had all the mental tools to go with his rare natural ability.
“When he was recruited, I was like: ‘What are we doing?’” Marotti said earlier this offseason. “He was so quiet, he didn’t want to talk, he wouldn’t look you in your eye — so awkward. I’m like, there’s no way. I don’t care if he runs a 21.2-second time in the 200 with no cleats on. What are we doing?
“But it’s weird, because the first day he was here it was completely the opposite. I asked him why he was like that in recruiting. He was like, ‘I hated it, I didn’t want to talk.’ Now he’s like J.K. [Dobbins]. You see him, you feel him and you hear him. His ceiling is pretty high. He’s got that high-basement ceiling.”
Harrison started building on the foundation during an impressive freshman campaign for the Buckeyes last year, one that was perhaps more productive than Marotti or the coaching staff would have imagined even after he started coming out of his shell. Considering all of the depth Ohio State has accumulated with the Rushmen, it certainly came as a surprise to see Harrison start two games — including the Fiesta Bowl — and finish with 24 tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks
Heading into Year Two, Harrison appears to only be scratching the surface. And he looks to be on track to take the torch as the next great pass-rushing threat at Ohio State.
What makes Zach Harrison a potential superstar? How much better can the Ohio State defensive end get in his second year with the program? When does a pass-rusher really start feeling comfortable with the Buckeyes? Former Ohio State star and current Bengals defensive lineman Sam Hubbard joined Lettermen Row to break down some film and answer those questions in the latest episode of BuckIQ.
Roll the tape!
Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward contributed the editorial content for this post.