COLUMBUS – Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison likes new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ defense because it allows him and his teammates to make plays and be more active.
But there’s another place Harrison plans to be less active in his fourth season with the Buckeyes.
That would be his Twitter and Instagram accounts on social media.
“Last year I paid a lot of attention to what the media wrote and what fans were saying about me. Now it’s kind of like I just go out there and play— play my hardest and go get what I came to get. Everything else is – I don’t want to say irrelevant – but it doesn’t affect how I play on the field so why give any attention to it?,” Harrison said on Tuesday.
“I’m going to just get in my playbook, watch film and go ball on Saturday,” he said.
Harrison arrived at Ohio State with huge expectations as a 5-star recruit who was ranked the No. 2 defensive end nationally in the 2019 recruiting class.
The significance of him choosing the Buckeyes was magnified by the fact his final choice came down to OSU and Penn State and that he was from Olentangy Orange High School in suburban Columbus.
So far in his career, he has started 15 games, earned second-team All-Big Ten honors twice and recorded 9.5 career sacks.
“I feel like I’m playing a lot looser. I’m just going out and playing football, a game I’ve been playing since I was a kid. I’m just playing football. I feel with that mindset I can go out there and play my best football and put myself in the position I want to be,” Harrison said.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson says he has talked to Harrison about not worrying about other people’s expectations of him.
“When you start worrying about the expectations of other people rather than your expectations as a player, that’s where you get lost,” Johnson said.
“I tell him all the time that every time somebody throws a brick you’re building a foundation to be better. He’s starting to learn how to build a foundation with those bricks where people say he’s got to be this, he’s got to be that. I think he’s in a good place right now. He has worked extremely hard to understand the big picture. Now he just has to go out and do it.”
Johnson’s linemen appear to be one of the strengths of OSU’s defense this season. The veteran coach says he always aims to have 10 players who can play. This season he thinks he could have as many as 12 game-ready linemen if everyone is healthy.
Two of those linemen – sophomore defensive ends Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau – were 5-star recruits who were ranked among the best players in the country.
“All that star stuff means absolutely nothing once you walk through the door. I feel like they did a good job of coming in and just working and trusting us to help them out and get them to where we see they can be,” Harrison said.
Tuimoloau said, “I kind of stay off social media. The only time I go on my phone is to text my mom or my parents. I try to stay off that. That’s how I grew up. My parents always had a hold of my social media to keep me away from that noise so I could keep my head down and keep God first..
“Zach’s been through it. He’s a veteran here. Whatever questions I have I always go to him. When we first came in he was telling us to just let go, to just go out there and play. That was his biggest advice for us young guys when we first came in.”