Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2019 DE Zach Harrison is Great On and Off the Field

July 3, 2017

2019 Olentangy Orange (Ohio) defensive end Zach Harrison is one of the few underclassmen competing at The Opening this week. Orange head coach Zebb Schroeder feels the four-star prospect could have a big 2017 because Harrison has dedicated himself to the weight room this offseason.

“It will be interesting because, from last year to this year, Zach is faster, bigger, and stronger,” Schroeder told Irish Sports Daily. “If you watch the tape from his sophomore year, he had a terrific year and made some impactful plays.

“We’re excited because he probably up 25 pounds from his sophomore year. He’s made huge strides in the weight room strength wise. Last year, he used his speed and levers on some offensive tackles. I think he’s going to use his strength against offensive tackles this year.”  

I saw Harrison compete in The Opening regional in Cleveland and the buzz around the camp was he had run a 4.62 40-yard dash. Harrison towered over just about everyone at the camp and was the most impressive prospect physically competing on the day.

Harrison competed and played well, but going against some of the top offensive linemen in the country also opened his eyes.

“He has really focused this summer, especially after The Opening Regional, on using his hands and getting his hands and hips in sync to set the edge on an offensive tackle,” explained Schroeder. “He’s developing his pass rush technique, and that’s been his focus in his free time.

“He’s obsessed with fundamentals. He’ll work with our defensive line coach, his peers, or go around to camps to just focus on that part of his game. I feel he wants to use his size, speed, and strength to be even more impactful.”

At Orange, Harrison played rush end and tight end over his first two seasons. Schroeder doesn’t quite know where his star player will end up in college as Harrison possesses some unique traits.

“From his freshman to sophomore year as he put on weight, we were wondering if he would stay as fast,” said Schroeder. “He is one of those rare breeds, and he has gotten faster as he got bigger. He was a lot faster as a sophomore at 240 than he was as a freshman at around 215.

“If he continues to follow the program and stay powerful, I think he can keep his speed. Now he still has two more years of high school, so in four years as a sophomore in college, I don’t know. Is he more of a rush end? It will be interesting to see how it plays out.”

Harrison is more than just a dominant football player off the edge. Schroeder hasn’t seen any adverse changes in Harrison despite the recruiting hype. In fact, the one change Schroeder has seen is more dedication to the program.  

“The one change I have noticed is that he has done more to engage younger players and younger kids coming up in our program," stated Schroeder. "He hasn’t asked for the platform, but the nature of the game has put him on one. He is a young kid, but he understands the magnitude of what his actions can do for our program.”

“Our team voted on him as one of our top leaders. I think he got the most votes in his class and that was last year during the season before a lot of the recruiting picked up. People were voting for him based on his actions and not his notoriety.”  

Every coach wants a hardworking player that puts time into academics and takes care of people around him. Harrison is just that kid.  

“He’s one of the hardest workers we have, and he loves the weight room,” explained Schroeder. “He loves the dirty work that is required to be successful. I think other kids look to that and see it’s important to him and it makes it important to them. In that regard, Zach has done a lot for our program as we continue to build our program into something special.

“One of the college coaches was in this winter and asked me about him,” recalled Schroeder. “I almost felt I was giving him all the answers he wanted to hear, but they are all the truth. Does he take his academics seriously? Check. Does he love the weight room? Check. Does he love the details and fundamentals of the position? check. All those the intangibles are in place for him to be one of the special kids in his class.”  

The nation’s top programs will be keeping close tabs on Harrison this fall and Schroeder couldn’t be happier.  

“At this point, you’re just happy for the kid,” said Schroeder. “You see a kid who has the ability and then is doing all the little things maximize his ability. That’s when it gets really fun. You get excited for the kid, our team, and what’s in store for his future.”

Find out more on Zach Harrison and Notre Dame's chances here: ISD Intel 6/30

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