It all begins with one: one kid, one life-changing decision, one hell of a ride.

One duplicates itself to create two. Two wouldn’t be made possible without one. One continues building to accomplish a never-ending goal. As the sequence continues, the numbers build, and they don’t stop.

For one rising athlete, the journey of the never-ending sequence didn’t begin until one special number was reached, 13. It’s the number that Zachary Harrison wears every Friday. It’s the age at which his journey began. It’s the number that changed his life. Every phenomenal athlete has a story, and this one is far overlooked.

The decision to pursue football came as a fifth grader. At age 10, he stepped on the field for the first time, battling opponents who had many years of prior experience. It appeared to be a late start considering that the majority of professional, college and other advanced players start playing before third grade, but this youngster was an exception.

Thirteen isn’t only the number he wears on his back; it’s the number that has built success throughout his athletic career. At age 13, he rapidly became a true young adult. The size grew, the numbers stacked and the journey began. On the track, he shattered seemingly impossible records, dusted every opponent and dropped the jaws of every single person who set their eyes on him. And you better believe that every eye was set on the 6-foot middle schooler.

In the 200-meter dash, his best race was clocked at a record-breaking time of 23 seconds. Coincidentally, that wasn’t even his strongest event. He dominated the 400-meter dash every time he stepped on the track and casually broke his own record several times. His fastest lap was an eye-opening 53 seconds.

In the fall, all eyes shifted to the field, which is where his success took off. The youngest kid in the eighth grade was clearly the biggest and toughest. Although his talents didn’t truly brew until high school, the hidden endeavor began early on.

Off the field is where his character truly shines. Light-hearted but very headstrong is how his mother, Tracey, describes him as a person. Consequences are huge within the family of four. In fact, they spend a lot of time discussing choices and how the resulting consequences could impact his career. His parents and sister have always supported him, and they intend to continue supporting him as his journey endures.

“The support we have provided, as well as the freedom to express himself, has definitely made an impact on him as a person and a football player,” Tracey said.

As a 16-year-old, the success-driven attention can get stressful. The toughest, but most motivational part of his journey is the drive to maintain his success. He doesn’t want to let anyone down. He has goals set, and he does everything in his power to achieve them.

Photo credit by Emily Myers

Motivation plays a huge role in the building of success. A lot like two follows one, success follows motivation. Exceptional athletes don’t just get lucky; they work harder than everyone around them, and that is the sole reason they constantly stand out.

It’s obvious that 6-foot tall middle schoolers stand out among the rest, but there is a huge difference between standing out and being successful. The ultimate goal is not to stand out once or twice; it is to work hard, prove yourself every play and accomplish goals. Success is very hard to achieve, and it’s not always guaranteed. If one provides maximum effort every single day, the only direction is up.

Zach Harrison is very similar to the number one. The five star Defensive End from Olentangy Orange High School works hard every day. He defines motivation and is always building. The youngest kid in the 2019 class has already reached the top at his level and is somehow still climbing.

For Harrison, the only decreasing numbers are the ones on the recruiting charts. His athletic abilities go up, and the numbers go down. In the 2019 recruiting class, Harrison is ranked the number one recruit in the nation, according to ESPN.

The announcement of Harrison being titled the best player in the nation came with no surprise. He ran the 40-meter dash in 4.62 seconds and the 20-yard shuffle in 4.45 seconds. His maximum bench press is 265 pounds, according to his Hudl. This young man is a 6-foot-5-inch, 236-pound ball of pure muscle.

Off the field, his statistics are simply incredible, although, on the turf is where Harrison makes his money. He thundered through his junior season with an average of 4.3 tackles, 2.3 tackles for losses, and almost one sac per game.

Although he’s prominently a defensive threat, Harrison also takes advantage of his size on offense. It may be odd to see the nation’s best defensive player on the other side of the ball, but it’s no question that Harrison makes the most out of every opportunity. With only 19 pass attempts all season, he averaged 21.6 receiving yards per game and scored four touchdowns.

Highly recruited athletes often stay quiet when asked about their preferred schools. Harrison chooses to do the same.

“Some schools stick out more than others, but I’m going to keep that to myself,” Harrison said.

Ohio State, Alabama, Penn State and Michigan are some of the top schools that have offered Harrison scholarships. Although, there is still no answer to the “big question.”

Despite the fact that the future of Harrison’s journey is uncertain, it’s clear to see that he could be a tremendous asset to almost any division I college in the country. He is a huge defensive threat, as well as a very talented “big body” wideout. He shows high potential when it comes to production at the collegiate level.

With that being said, the schools that have interest in “the big man” are well aware of his vast capabilities. The visible potential is what sparks the array of appeal that shines on Harrison.

Without a doubt, most elite division I colleges would gratefully welcome Harrison into their lineup, although, some universities show more interest than others.

While firmly obeying strict NCAA recruiting regulations, select teams travel the extra mile to display their interest and prove that their school will provide large-scale success for every student-athlete. This is a huge deciding factor in the eyes of many uncertain athletes.

Harrison has seen this first hand. With 14 division I offers, it’s easy to recognize the schools that truly want his decision to sway in their direction. There’s one school that reaches out to Harrison more than any other. This team happens to be in his backyard. They have prospects all over the whole world, but they’re very known for recruiting locally.

“Ohio State contacts me more than any other school. There aren’t any ‘behind the scenes’ differences, but they simply reach out to me more often,” Harrison said.

However, the athlete is the ultimate judge of where their journey will continue. For Harrison, the future is still blurry.

“I’ve always wanted to play college football, but I never thought I’d be good enough. My dream became a vision after I got my first few offers during my sophomore year,” Harrison said.

His most recent activity was with two special schools. All within a week, Harrison unofficially visited Penn State and Ohio State. He also visited Coach James Franklin of the Nittany Lions for the first time.

The most recent visit to Ohio State was Harrison’s fifth time on campus as a prospect, although, his offer from Penn State came over a month before Ohio State’s offer.

Not to mention, those two schools aren’t even the biggest names on the list. On May 4, 2017, Harrison was offered by Alabama. In addition, he has offers from other top schools such as Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Georgia, Wisconsin and several others.

As the list goes on, and so do the steps in Zach Harrison’s journey to the top. He has no intention of stopping anytime soon. Once again, the number one has more motivation than any other number. It works hard to reach two. Two is an accomplishment, but it has no time for celebration. The sequence is never-ending.

Zachary Harrison IS one. He builds on himself day after day and never slows down. There have been countless elite level accomplishments for Harrison, but he never stops to celebrate. Thirteen was only the beginning of this never-ending journey… the journey of a rising star.


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