Since former SGSR member Nate Rubinstein and I started a podcast the summer going into my sophomore year, I've made it a point to pick my "breakout player" for Ohio State football each of the past two seasons. With Oregon State coming to the Shoe in less than a month, it's about time I make my year three pick.
For some context, my choice for 2016-2017 was Malik Hooker. Last season it was J.K. Dobbins. So yeah, considering I gave up an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of my first varsity football start, I know what I'm doing, not to brag.
I picked Hooker simply because he had two picks in the Spring Game that year and I thought he looked like a stud. Turns out he's a walking interception.
For Dobbins, I'd heard Tony Alford loved him, and I've never been that high on Mike Weber, so I had another feeling. Tons of research by me, as you can tell.
This year, I have another gut feeling based on what I saw in game action last year, and my expert pick is outside linebacker Malik Harrison.
Harrison is freak athlete, and at 6'3", 245, he's a monster on the field. He played QB, safety, and punted for his high school team. The guy can do it all.
He found playing time last year thanks to the oft-injured Dante Booker, and looks to beat him out this year for the starting SAM linebacker spot.
He won't be the flashiest player on the field, considering the SAM's job is essentially to eat up blocks and get to the edge on run plays so the WILL linebacker can come clean up and get all the glory.
But what I've seen from Harrison is impressive. The way he patrols the field with such a big body is promising. He has the speed and size to be a real factor and disrupter for the Silver Bullets, and with the skill of the defensive line, I believe he will be freed up to make a lot of plays, even from the SAM spot.
Additionally, the OSU coaching staff graded him out as a "champion" in the Penn State game last year, which also bodes well, as he showed up in a big game.
Now, with smaller backers like Jerome Baker and Chris Worley out of the picture, the core of OSU's defense is made up of some real thumpers with Harrison and Tuf Borland patrolling the middle of the field.
To make things simple, I'm picking Harrison because he looks good in pads and has been noticeable on the field whenever I've seen him play. Again, just a gut feeling from me, a linebacking expert.
So there you have it, my breakout pick for the year. I'll retweet this after Malik Harrison takes a pick to the house in the Big Ten Title this year, a 26-17 win over Wisconsin. Book it.
Now maybe the rest of our SGSR broadcast crew can submit their picks...