Welcome to an ongoing series here at Land-Grant Holy Land — Freshman Focus. Spring practice is officially underway, and this year’s crop of Buckeyes is already hard at work preparing for the 2021 campaign. That being the case, now is a great time to introduce you to Ohio State’s incredibly talented freshman class. Each edition of Freshman Focus will highlight one of the newest Buckeyes, and will hopefully provide a glimpse at what they will bring to the team in the coming years.
Today’s freshman: Marvin Harrison Jr.
Seems like as good a time as any to preview freshman wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who has been drawing a ton of praise in spring practice as the coaches have gotten their first real look at the talented wideout. Harrison comes to Ohio State as the nation’s No. 14 wide receiver prospect, and the No. 97 overall player in the 2021 class. As you likely already could have guessed, he is indeed the son of eight-time NFL All-Pro and Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison, who spent his entire storied career with the Indianapolis Colts.
A top-100 national recruit with strong family bloodlines, Harrison collected over 18 offers for his services, including from the likes of Florida, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and many more. Like his teammate at St. Joseph’s Prep Kyle McCord, once the Ohio State offer officially came his way, which occurred on Jan. 16, 2019, it really became a two-team race between the Buckeyes and the in-state Nittany Lions. With the track record OSU receivers coach Brian Hartline had quickly accrued in Columbus, Harrison would commit to Ohio State on Oct. 31, 2019, and officially signed as an early enrollee with past December.
Harrison joined his high school quarterback as a member of Ohio State’s 2021 class, as McCord committed a few months prior in that April. The dynamic duo made up almost the entirety of the St. Joseph’s Prep offense, helping lead the Hawks to three-straight Pennsylvania 6A state championships. In his career with the high school program, Harrison racked up over 2,600 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns — both of which are Philadelphia Catholic League records. In this past year’s state championship game against Central York, Harrison hauled in eight catches for 156 yards and two TDs in a 62-13 victory.
Harrison and McCord had a great thing going in Philly, and they will look to bring that same connection to Ohio State’s offense. You don't win three-straight state titles on accident, and with the skillset Harrison put on display each and every game, you can see why Hartline and Ryan Day wanted to land the wideout so badly:
With the St. Josephs prep duo both in this class for Ohio State, it gives the program two of the top five players in Pennsylvania for the cycle — notably, Penn State didn’t land any of the top six in-state recruits in 2021. Harrison’s commitment gives the Buckeyes the top wide receiver prospect in the state in each of the last two classes, previously landing five-star PA native Julian Fleming in 2020. Ryan Day and his staff have been doing a great job of pilfering talent from their neighbors to the east, and any additional player they can steal from the Nittany Lions helps them out twofold.
Harrison isn’t just a highly-regarded prospect because of his last name, as the stud wide receiver has gotten a bunch of praise from the talent evaluators throughout his recruiting process. Already projected as a Day 3 NFL Draft pick or higher when his time comes, here is what 247Sports national recruiting analyst Brian Dohn had to say of Harrison’s skillset:
“Great frame with length but needs to add strength. BIg, strong hands. Can eventually get to 220 pounds. Son of NFL Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison. Great route tactician. Gets out of breaks quickly and is precise in his route depths. Good release and technical at top of routes. Has separation skills. Uses size and length well to shield defenders. Red-zone threat. Catches every routine ball and tracks it well. So smooth he makes it look effortless. Needs to add strength to handle jams and become more effective blocker. High-level player for Top 15 college program. Should develop into a second- or third-round NFL draft pick.”
Hearing about the smoothness of a wide receiver at Ohio State immediately makes you think of a player like Chris Olave, who everyones favorite broadcaster Gus Johnson dubbed “smooth as silk sheets” during a touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone in the 2019 matchup against Penn State. The two share a bunch of characteristics, including that precise route-running and ball-tracking ability. Not to say he will be the next Olave for the Buckeyes, but if he can develop along a similar track he is certainly destined for a long and successful career in Columbus.
Harrison will have his work cut out for him in terms of making it onto the field with all of the talent ahead of him, but as previously touched on, he seems to be quickly making a name for himself in spring practice as the coaches have lauded his effort and play thus far. From what those in attendance have seen from Ohio State on the practice fields to this point, it looks as though Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are in line to be the starting wide receiver trio, which would be my best guess for the position as well. But, that doesn’t mean Harrison should be a forgotten man.
There is likely no position Ohio State is deeper at than at wideout. In addition to those three guys, Hartline also has the likes of Jameson Williams, Julian Fleming, Emeka Egbuka and others at his disposal. However, with how good Harrison has been performing to this point, it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see him crack the two-deep once August comes around. The Buckeyes will likely look to rotate their receivers to keep guys fresh, and you may see Harrison get a few snaps here and there in non-garbage time situations. Regardless, even if he doesn’t make a huge impact in year one, Harrison will almost certainly be a guy that will be a big-time player for Ohio State in the future.