The Ohio State Buckeyes are sending a wide receiver to New York City as a Heisman finalist for the first time in their school’s history. Despite the Buckeyes’ recent output of NFL-level talent at the position such as Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the Biletnikoff Award finalist has managed to put himself in a tier above those that came before him. Harrison Jr. will be joined in the ceremony as a finalist along with the Oregon Ducks‘ Bo Nix, Washington Huskies‘ Michael Penix Jr. and the odds on favorite Jayden Daniels of LSU.
Harrison Jr. would be just the fifth wide receiver to be given the Heisman trophy in the award’s storied 89 year history. Harrison Jr. would join elite company if he were to win the award as Desmond Howard, Johnny Rodgers, Tim Brown and most recently Devonta Smith are the only wide receivers that have won up to this point. If Harrison Jr. were to take home the trophy, he would be the only wide receiver to do so without the assistance of kick and punt return statistics.
Reason 1: The Ohio State Buckeyes did not Provide Marvin Harrison Jr. with Elite Quarterback Play
While Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord’s play this season was more than serviceable, the third-team All-Big Ten quarterback was never considered elite, and he faced a lot of scrutiny from Buckeye fans. McCord threw for 24 touchdowns with just six interceptions this season, but a multiple-interception game against their biggest rival in the Michigan Wolverines significantly impacted his status moving forward. Head coach Ryan Day would not commit to naming McCord as the starter moving forward, which resulted in him entering the transfer portal.
Kyle McCord. Personally, I thought he did a really good job this season. Unfortunately, imo, Ohio State functions better w/ a dual-threat style QB. Elite college defenses and pocket QBs are few and far between. Wishing KM the best. #GoBucks
— Mikey “Beardown” Cuz (@BeardownCuz) December 4, 2023
McCord’s lack of mobility was one of the reasons the Buckeyes were tied for eighth most sacks allowed in the nation with 19. While McCord’s 3,170 passing yards are good enough for the seventh-best season for an Ohio State quarterback, his lack of a running threat made Harrison Jr.’s 1,211 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns that much more impressive. Even though Harrison Jr. might get a boost due to the perception of McCord, the duo won three state championships together in high school and their chemistry may have contributed greatly to his success.
Reason 2: Marvin Harrison Jr. had the Privilege of Learning the Position from his Hall-of-Fame Father Marvin Harrison
Marvin Harrison Jr. has the rare benefit of being around of the game’s best receivers in its history. His father Marvin Harrison put together a Hall-of-Fame career with the Indianapolis Colts as he ranks fifth in NFL history with 1,102 receptions. In an article from the IndyStar, Harrison Jr. detailed the massive role his father played in his football career.
“He’s taught me pretty much everything I know ‒ more so the mentality of the game and how to approach the game,” the younger Harrison said. “I try to work as hard as he did. He obviously set the bar very high, and I have big shoes to fill, but I’m trying to get there.”
Harrison Jr. will draw comparisons to his father for the entirety of his career, but some believe his ceiling is higher. One of the people that holds this belief is the other half of Marvin Harrison’s receiver duo Reggie Wayne. In the same IndyStar article, Wayne detailed why he believes this to be the case.
“He’s bigger than Marvin,” Wayne said of Jr. “He’s tall. He’s faster than Marv.”
Reason 3: Marvin Harrison Jr. Accounted for More than One-Third of the Ohio State Buckeyes’ Receiving Yards in an Elite Group
Harrison Jr.’s 1,211 receiving yards accounted for almost 36% of Ohio States 3,392 receiving yards on the season. For reference, Michigan’s number one wide receiver Roman Wilson accounted for just over 20% of his team’s receiving yards. Harrison pulled this feat off with three future early-round NFL draft picks competing for touches in Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and Cade Stover.
The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year accounted for 14 of Ohio State’s 26 passing touchdowns. Other teams knew the ball was going to Harrison Jr. and they still could not stop him from scoring a touchdown in all but two games this season. Harrison Jr.’s ability to perform as the top receiver in one of the deepest rooms in the country may just earn him the Heisman nod this season.