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What will happen with Ohio State's pursuit of 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison?

Ohio State recruiting mailbag: What to expect from 5-star DE Zach Harrison

Have Ohio State football recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Ohio State recruiting mailbag. This week, we discuss Ohio State’s pursuits of an in-state 5-star prospect and how the Buckeyes will need to manage their roster for scholarship numbers. If you want to check out previous mailbags, you can find them all here.

Good Wednesday afternoon, everyone.

Thanks for your questions this week. If you didn’t get to ask a question, make sure to send one to me on Twitter (@L10Ryan) or via email (DonnellyLandof10@gmail.com).

Let’s dive in.

Apart from the fact that they’re both 5-star prospects from the state of Ohio who are (were, in Jackson Carman’s case) expected to land at Ohio State, Zach Harrison and Carman could not be more different in their recruitments.

Harrison is not really actively involved or interested in the recruiting games and all of the attention that comes with it. The defensive end from Lewis Center Olentangy Orange is a quiet, reserved prospect who just wants to go about his decision-making process in the same manner. He’s speaking to a much shorter list of schools — only Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Notre Dame seem to have a prayer to land Harrison — and just isn’t as wrapped up in the game of interviews, changing leaders, or recruiting hubbub that surrounded Carman for months and months.

More than that, Harrison isn’t the kind of personality who will go out and be an active recruiter for other prospects. He would be a tent pole or crown jewel for Ohio State’s class in terms of talent, ability and need, but I don’t view him as a class leader or a player who would be out on the trail influencing other players.

Harrison will operate in his own time and I ultimately expect that he’ll be decided before the start of his senior season, but I really wouldn’t spend too much time concerning about how similar he may be to Carman. They’re very different kids, and recruits.

It’s impossible to predict how many players could ultimately leave the program due to transfer, medical issues, academic struggles, off-field concerns or any number of other reasons. However, we do know that Ohio State will have to lose at least three current scholarship players from the roster between now and the start of fall camp. The Buckeyes have 88 scholarship players currently on the roster after linebacker Nick Conner’s medical disqualification and need to be at 85 when fall camp begins.

Some players seem more likely to leave the program than others — Urban Meyer has essentially openly spoken about the possibility that Joe Burrow would transfer from the program if he loses the quarterback battle — but there will be plenty of movement to watch. Ohio State will have open battles at as many as nine positions in the starting lineup, and those fights for starting jobs inevitably lead to transfers. Additionally, multiple players have long-term injury issues and may not be able to continue playing.

In short, it’s impossible to tie this up neatly. But at least three players will leave Ohio State’s roster between now and August.

This one got a chuckle from me. My honest answer? No, not really. I think it’s kind of a defunct term at this point, used to separate skinny pass-rushing defensive ends from more physically developed players. Some of the methodology the recruiting services use to differentiate weakside and strongside defensive ends is nonsensical and might as well be a coin flip. I think the industry would be well-served by eliminating the distinction altogether.

What I would like to see is a position ranking for edge rushers. This would be able to combine those tweener outside linebackers or weakside defensive ends who are long, lean, and quick but may not be as physically developed as some of their counterparts. They may not be as proficient in linebacker duties as their peers in that position group. Edge rushers — tasked with blitzing and getting after the quarterback on nearly every down, be it standing up or with their hand in the dirt — is growing and becoming its own distinction. This is direction I’d like to see the rankings shift.

Also, the duties of linebackers in various roles are so vastly different from defense to defense that the inside linebacker/outside linebacker distinction seems unnecessary, as well. The way coaches evaluate talent in recruiting and deploy it on the field can lead to so much variety in how a recruit’s future linebacker role will actually develop. These changes probably won’t happen and they may just be wishful thinking from a 23-year-old optimist, but who knows?

Correction: The original post misattributed an Urban Meyer comment to include Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins. It was intended to include only Burrow. Land of 10 regrets the error.