PASADENA, Calif. — After a break of a week and a half or so following Tuesday’s Rose Bowl, the cycle begins anew for the returning Ohio State football players and those recruits who enroll early for the spring semester, one of whom is expected to be Zach Harrison.
Even though Harrison is the highest rated among the 15 who signed with the Buckeyes on Dec. 19 — No. 4 overall nationally, according to the 247Sports composite of the major recruiting services — the first few weeks under the Mickey Marotti-run offseason conditioning program promise to be an eye opener for him, defensive end Chase Young said.
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“All these coaches being all nice to him,” Young said, laughing. “But once he gets here, he’s definitely going to come into the system and be treated like everyone else.”
Harrison, from Olentangy Orange, was the object of an intense recruiting competition featuring the top three programs in the Big Ten East — Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan — in the final weeks before early signing day. He didn’t announce his choice until that day. All he heard during that time, probably, was how good he was and how much he could help the program, whichever one he picked.
Now he’s going to hear about how hard it will be for him to get on the field as a freshman under defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and how far he has to go to make the grade as head coach Ryan Day takes over.
“I guess that’s the biggest obstacle a freshman would face, but that’s not really an obstacle,” Young said. “He knows what he’s coming in for, and he wants to be coached by the best. That’s the way he’s going to be coached.”
Young was once in Harrison’s shoes in another way. He was considered one of the elite recruits in the 2017 recruiting class, pegged with can’t-miss ability and potential. He sees similar traits in the 6-foot-6, 243-pound Harrison.
“That boy is fast,” Young said. “Zach is definitely the top recruit we have, the best player in the nation.
“So I just told him when he comes in, just be ready to work.”
It worked for Young, who stepped up into the playing rotation as a freshman. The work ethic made the difference.
“And I think that’s why I pushed the people in front of me,” Young said. “It’s not like you want a young guy to come in and not work, you feel me? So that kind of gets the whole unit going and keeps the whole train moving when the young guy comes in and is working real hard.
“It keeps the leaders working real hard, too. I think that’s just part of the whole football concept.”