Ohio State’s 2016 recruiting class — the country’s fourth-ranked class — featured 25 signees from 11 states and many of those players are expected to contribute to the Buckeyes’ on-field success early in their careers.
Join Landof10.com as we introduce you to the next wave of Buckeyes in our Young Bucks series. Today’s focus is linebacker Malik Harrison
Who is Malik Harrison?
For months, Columbus native Malik Harrison waited for an Ohio State scholarship offer to come his way. A two-sport star at Walnut Ridge, Harrison had offers from Wisconsin and Michigan State among his dozen opportunities, but believed that eventually, if he was patient, that things would shake out in a way that he and the Buckeyes could get together.
- Height: 6-foot-4
- Weight: 222
- Number: 39
- Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
- High School: Walnut Ridge
- Composite Ranking: 49 (Athlete)
- High School Highlights
In December, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Luke Fickell finally delivered that offer and from that moment on, it was widely assumed that the 6-foot-4, 222-pound Harrison would jump on it and become a Buckeye.
That didn’t happen overnight — Harrison made official visits in January to Ohio State, Michigan State, and Syracuse — but he chose the Buckeyes on signing day in the gymnasium at Walnut Ridge. He enrolled at Ohio State in June.
What does he bring to Ohio State?
Harrison may be one of the most explosive athletes entering any college campus this fall. That’s his calling card and that’s what initially drew the interest of Fickell. The Buckeyes’ linebackers coach talked about Harrison during Ohio State’s signing day press conference in February.
“He’s a kid that, man, his ceiling is who knows where and reality is we bring him in here as an athlete. He could walk in tomorrow and try a wide out, try a tight end, try at defensive end, try at linebacker,” Fickell said on signing day. “What he is, he’s an explosive athlete with some length and a really good character kid that we’re going to really enjoy having as part of this program.”
If you’d like some video evidence, outside of his senior season’s highlights that are linked above, of what kind of athlete Harrison is, it’s recommended that you watch his basketball highlights.
Harrison is an exceptional athlete but off the field, or the court, he’s a quiet, unassuming and humble kid who leads others by example.
From Eric Seger of elevenwarriors.com:
“He can transform on the football field. He’s not loud and boisterous, but just his level of intensity kicks up,” Mattox said, fondly recalling how Harrison took over games against Marion Franklin this past season and then Eastmoor as a junior.
“Off the field, he’s a humble, quiet young man. Kid you want your kids to grow up and be like.”
That’s what Malik Harrison brings to Ohio State.
Will he play as a freshman?
While Harrison could play a number of different spots — including wide receiver, tight end or linebacker — for the Buckeyes, he’ll likely kick off his Ohio State career contributing on special teams. He recently lost his black stripe and has stepped up into the conversation there but at linebacker he is still a year away, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you consider who Luke Fickell compares him too.
“Darron Lee, he mentions it every time, every day,” Harrison said about how Fickell sees his role “When Darron got drafted, he said, ‘That’s you in a couple years.’ He says stuff like that all the time.”
Lee redshirted in 2013 as an Ohio-based athlete looking for a position. Like Lee, Harrison played quarterback and wide receiver and linebacker.
“I just take it as it’s great to be compared to him. Because he’s Darron Lee, he just signed a multi-million dollar contract,” Harrison said. “It’s great, but I remember the first time he ever told me I didn’t really see it. I didn’t want to think about linebacker at the time. I was just focused and wanted to be receiver. But now, I look at it really it doesn’t matter if I play linebacker or receiver. I just want to play football and make it anywhere.”
Malik Harrison is going to make it, but he could benefit from a redshirt year this fall.