The jump from college to the professional ranks is a difficult transition for any NFL prospect.
That notion is not lost on former Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison, who the Atlanta Falcons selected with the No. 75 overall selection in the third round of the NFL Draft on April 28. With attention to his first season in the NFL, Harrison emphasized that his focus is on getting adjusted to being a professional and learning the ropes.
“I want to make sure that I have the install down, just make it automatic,” Harrison said of his goals for Falcons’ rookie minicamp. “I want to make sure I keep going hard and kind of get into that football shape. It’s different than just running gassers and doing things like that. It’s very different.”
With the Falcons opening rookie minicamp on Friday, Harrison noted that he had to quickly adjust to how Atlanta operates their practices and change his approach to how he trains.
“It really was just new,” Harrison said. “The format of practice was different. At Ohio State, I was up there for four years, so I knew how practice was run, with Periods one, two, three and four, I knew exactly what they are. Now, it’s kind of like, ‘OK, we’ve got relearn all of those little things.'”
Playing under legendary defensive line coach Larry Johnson while at Ohio State, Harrison picked up several lessons that he said he’s looking to build upon at the next level.
“The stuff he teaches works and its proven,” Harrison said. “So just being able to take that and refine it and bring it to this level is something that I would love to do.”
As Harrison continues to adjust to life in the NFL, he emphasized that he looks to soak in any lesson he possibly can from the Falcons’ veterans, which includes defensive tackle Calais Campbell — a six-time pro bowler and three time All-Pro. Harrison said Campbell reached out to him after he was drafted to offer his expertise on the league and help with the acclimation process.
When it comes to life off of the field, Harrison noted that he hopes to pick up skills on how to handle himself as a professional, while also soaking up knowledge from the team’s veterans that could help him with his game.
“On the field speaks for itself, All-Pro caliber guys doing it at the highest level, learning how they operate on the field, have somebody to help me through this next level of my life,” Harrison said.