Brief Update on 5 Star 2019 DE Zach Harrison

Submitted by Caesar on September 17th, 2018 at 6:25 AM


Harrison is a top 4 overall recruit on the 247 composite. He recently returned to action on the football field after being held out 3 games with a bone bruise injury. 

Background info: 

Here's a link to an article from Bucknuts that was published today. Here's a link to video of an interview after his first game back from injury this season. 



  • He wants to enroll early (article)
  • Not sure when he'll decide
  • Not sure if he'll make it to all the schools he's considering

Self-Reported Non-Factors in Decision

  • Michigan's recent d-line commitment doesn't impact his decision 
  • Depth chart doesn't impact his decision
  • Playing time is not a factor
  • Teams' performance this year won't impact his decision
  • His mum allegedly doesn't mind where he ends up 

Self-Reported Factors in His Decision

  • Relationships with people (guessing players and coaches) is important to him  


  • A kinda weird, noncommittal answer was given about whether he wanted a fresh start at the next school he attended (referring to statement he made at The Opening). It's not clear if this is still a factor or not.

Some Thoughts

Yeah, that kid subscribes to the David Molk School of Interviews. He really values his privacy, and I felt bad for him. Understandably, his answers were rushed; this gives me pause about the answers he gave.

If you take this interview at face value, a reported thing that in Ohio State's favor (his mum), isn't a factor anymore. I don't know if he just wanted to get out of there or if mum has really come around, but that seems positive for Michigan. Relationships are also big for him, and I vaguely remember reading that things weren't going as well with Ohio State players as it was with the two other schools. So maybe hooray for that. On the other hand, maybe he's backing off of the comments where he talks about wanting a fresh start? I'll let others parse his answer. 

On the balance, I'd say this is a feather in Michigan's cap, though there's still no lake-shaking evidence one way or another. 



September 17th, 2018 at 7:23 AM ^

Gary didn't start, and Harrison probably wouldn't either. He would probably rotate in like Gary did, but Harrison is more raw than Gary was - he's freakish athleticism that still needs weight, technique, and time on task.

Our starting DEs will be Paye and Hutchinson next year, there's almost no doubt about that, only question is which will be an End and which will be an Anchor. I would guess they flip from this year and Paye plays End and Hutchinson Anchor. 


September 17th, 2018 at 8:09 AM ^

Yeah, it’s looking like Paye-Kemp-Solomon-Hutchinson next season, with a second-string of Dwumfour, Jeter, hopefully Vilain, and then probably freshman (Herron, Smith, and hopefully, Harrison).  It’s a formidable starting group but an injury could be disastrous.  Would really be nice to get something out of Rueben Jones or Ron Johnson next year.


September 17th, 2018 at 8:31 AM ^

Herron is no longer coming here - he is committed to Stanford.

I'm guessing starters will be Hutchinson-Solomon-Kemp-Paye as you said, then Jeter-Dwumfour-Vilain seem likely as backups. Backup Anchor seems sketchy right now. If we land Karlaftis I would guess it would be him. If we land Harrison, I would guess Vilain would slide to Anchor and Harrison would be the backup End.

Karlaftis is closer to college ready than Harrison, IMO. Harrison has a higher ceiling, but Karlaftis has a higher floor.

Indy Pete - Go Blue

September 17th, 2018 at 6:54 AM ^

Great update Caesar, thanks.  I hope the integrity of leadership and the institution factors into his decision. He will excel, but coaching will be key. I concede that he could be properly coached up at osu, but Mattison has to be considered essentially the gold standard for college D line coaching. I hope he goes blue, but I am not anticipating it. Geography is a gigantic hurdle here. 


September 17th, 2018 at 7:48 AM ^

Mattison is a great coach, but I don’t think there’s a consensus that he’s better than Larry Johnson. UM and OSU have that over PSU, but Wiltfong has said if Penn State was in Columbus he would have already committed to them. However Wiltfong also reiterated that Harrison has a better connection with the UM players and commits.

I live in the area and I was at his game on Friday. As the article states, the announcer did say that Zach wants everyone to know that he has hugged Urban Meyer. People laughed and cheered but it makes you wonder if he was taking a shot at him being suspended.

The guy genuinely doesn’t like attention and a lot of people around here are starting to believe it’s a UM/PSU battle and he’s only keeping OSU on the list to avoid the backlash. That’s not insider information and I’m not pretending to have any. I’m just sharing what people around here are saying. Also, his mom was very pro OSU and wants him to stay close to home so if she truly is okay with him going elsewhere, then he must have talked her into it and that would definitely be a good sign.

Watching From Afar

September 17th, 2018 at 10:07 AM ^

Johnson's OSU guys are below with their rankings: 

 Michael Bennett

Top 50 4 star

Joey Bosa

Top 40 4 star

Adolphus Washington

5 star

Tyquan Lewis

Top 300 4 star

Sam Hubbard

Top 200 4 star (as an athlete though)

Jaylyn Holmes

Top 80 4 star

Nick Bosa

5 star

Chase Young

5 star

The PSU guys (Hali and Odrick were both top 100 players - Maybin was a generic 3 star) were mostly highly coveted as well. Recruiting is part of being a coach so that definitely goes to his resume. He gets ridiculously highly rated guys and turns them into draft picks.

I don't have the resources to pick up all the guys Mattison has coached going back to the 90s, but he coached Michigan's defenses and DLs that had the likes of William Carr and Glenn Steele. He also coached at ND when Tuck was there and Florida when they had guys like Jarvis Moss.

Different guys coaching at different schools in different situations. Johnson gets the cream on the crop and sends them to the NFL. Mattison gets lower ranked guys and sends them to the NFL, usually in the 2nd - 5th rounds.


September 17th, 2018 at 9:12 AM ^

Daxson Hill is wishful thinking, and I'm with Mantis on Harrison.

"Teams' performance this year won't impact his decision" is right up there with "academics are incredibly important to me." I understand why kids say it, but in the vast majority of cases of elite-level recruits, it's bunk.

If, God forbid, Michigan loses to OSU and goes 8-4 while OSU goes to the playoffs, the notion that wouldn't impact a recruit's thinking is laughable, especially if that kid is from the Columbus area.


September 17th, 2018 at 1:17 PM ^

It would be wrong to say Michigan has no chance—we did with Deshawn Hand, too—but in the end I think Hill will go with the stronger football program, which is Alabama.

I hope I'm dead wrong, but I've been observing Michigan recruiting pretty closely for almost 25 years and our record for getting out-of-region 5 stars when going up against the dominant programs of the day isn't very good.

If we do pull it off, it will be a tremendous recruiting coup by Harbaugh & staff.


September 18th, 2018 at 2:18 AM ^

Honestly, I think these kids really want to go to Michigan, but they also need to go to a successful program. For Michigan, I think that means sealing the deal on some of the big games--even going to CFP.

I could see Michigan pitching Hill on the strength of that SMU game, even. Michigan could say, "We keep getting beat by Proche, and who is he beating?" The answer, at least a couple of times, was a safety. It's a place where an upgrade in talent could make a real difference.



September 17th, 2018 at 7:25 AM ^

Quiet kid who I think wants to go to Michigan but will get pressured into going to Ohio State. Don't know why I get that vibe, but this recruitment reminds of Weber's without the prior verbal to Michigan. I think Harrison likes Michigan more, but I don't buy that MOM (get that British "mum" shit out of here) doesn't care where he goes, and Lord knows he feels pressure to go to OSU living 15 minutes away from campus.


September 17th, 2018 at 7:44 AM ^

Watch an osu game,  then watch a Michigan game.  Especially a home game.  Hell, even a road OSU game. Then you tell me which is more exciting.  Which would you want to be a part of? Ohio state takes care of business,  Michigan goes out and struggles.  Osu has fire and excitement,  from their coaching staff to their walk on punter. You don't see that with Michigan. There are only 2 teams this year with a legitimate chance at winning it all.  Alabama and osu. And that hurts to say. Which program would you want to go to? (I know,  but urbz! )


September 17th, 2018 at 10:24 AM ^

Who on their schedule do you see beating them? Tcu has been gearing up for this game all off season. Check their game against smu, they were totally looking past them.  Im not saying tcu is going to the playoffs, but they gave ohio state their best shot. Georgia is good,  and you may be right, they could win it.  But Alabama is firing on all cylinders.  Psu will give osu a dog fight, but only because it's a white out game.  I hope im wrong,  but from what I've seen so far this year,  it's an Alabama ohio state slug fest for the championship. Clemson will make the playoff,  but they don't have the horses to go toe to toe with Alabama.  I think georgia is a year away.  1. Alabama 2. Ohio state 3. Georgia 4. Clemson. 


September 17th, 2018 at 7:53 AM ^

Osu is the home town school and moms choice.

psu is the school he has described as feeling like a family and Franklin is the coach he has been most effusive about. When describing how he felt about Michigan he compared it directly back to psu. Look at wiltfongs comments about how if psu was in Columbus he would already be committed there.

so to me it’s psu if he wants to leave home, osu if he doesn’t. Neither results in a Michigan commit 

Wolverine 73

September 17th, 2018 at 9:08 AM ^

Trying to parse anything out of answers like these, or indeed any vague answers to recruitment questions, is a fool’s errand.  We will know where he is going when he tells us.  Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the current season of football.

SMart WolveFan

September 17th, 2018 at 9:22 AM ^

Thanks for the update!

Even if they end up third for Harrison and lose out to Bama for Daxton, it says a lot about the commits already in the class that the top kids want to play with these guys, especially considering all the negativity surrounding the program.

let's just hope the "who they play with" is more important than the "where they play".