Zach Harrison will return to Ohio State for his senior season
Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison will return for his senior season, giving a major boost to the Buckeyes’ 2022 defense.
Harrison hinted in an Instagram post Friday that he would return when he listed the date — 9/3/22 — of Ohio State's season opener against Notre Dame. A source close to Harrison confirmed Saturday that he would return to Ohio State and not enter the 2022 NFL draft.
Harrison was a second-team All-Big selection in media voting and third-team by coaches last season.
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He was credited with 34 tackles. Eight were for losses, including four sacks. Harrison also broke up four passes and forced two fumbles.
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Harrison was a five-star recruit from Olentangy Orange. He was the only non-senior voted to be a captain by teammates this year.
He said before the Rose Bowl that he was still wrestling with the decision to return. Harrison said that if he left, he wouldn't have achieved all that he wanted at Ohio State.
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"That's definitely part of my decision," he said. "I feel like there's definitely some things I've left on the table that I feel like, if I come back, I can accomplish. But that's something I've just got to factor in and sit down with my mom and dad and make those decisions."
Zach Harrison cites improvement in 2021
Though his stats were relatively modest, he believes he was a more effective player in 2021.
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"I just feel I improved from last season," he said. "I feel like I affected the game a lot more than in my first two years. That's something that I want to continue to do, just grow as a player every single year and get better and better."
The next step is consistency, he said.
"Always being the dominant player that I know I can be," he said. "That's probably the biggest thing for me making sure I'm that player every single snap, every single game."
Ohio State will have a new look on defense next season after the unit struggled for most of the 2021 season. Jim Knowles takes over as coordinator and will coach linebackers, and Perry Eliano and Tim Walton will coach the secondary.
Harrison's position coach, defensive line coach Larry Johnson, is the only holdover on the defensive staff. Matt Barnes left to become defensive coordinator at Memphis. Linebackers coach Al Washington and defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs were not retained.
Bill Rabinowitz covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @brdispatch.