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Unreasonable Expectations: Marvin Harrison Jr. will have the best wide receiving season in Ohio State history

Ignore the quarterback and offensive line questions, Marv is fully capable of this.

Ohio State Spring Football Game Photo by Ben Jackson/Getty Images
Matt Tamanini Matt Tamanini is the co-managing editor of Land-Grant Holy Land having joined the site in 2016.

From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about our Unreasonable Expectations. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our Unreasonable Expectations here.

It’s a new week, and that means we have a new theme this week at Land-Grant Holy Land. And — as expected — some folks didn’t take too kindly to us writing about some of our biggest concerns last week, which is honestly why we started off with a more critical, negative theme. This week though, the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction, and we are talking about some of our most unreasonable expectations for the Buckeyes.

Whether that means we discuss our unreasonable expectation that Ohio State wins every game this fall by 35 points or that Marvin Harrison Jr. wins the 2023 Heisman Trophy or that the Buckeyes land every five-star recruit that they bring to campus on an official visit or that J.T. Tuimoloau breaks OSU’s single-season sack record, we are getting into our most unhinged, fan-brain thoughts this week.

Of course, these things, by definition, are going to be highly unlikely to happen, but we are fans, that’s how things are supposed to work.

For me, my most unreasonable expectation this season is that Marvin Harrison Jr. will end the 2023 campaign as unquestionably having had the single greatest season by an Ohio State wide receiver in program history. Of course, there’s no accounting for potential injuries, but assuming we don’t have a repeat of what befell Jaxon Smith-Njigba last year, I think that this is well within the realm of possibility — well, perhaps not well within, otherwise it wouldn’t be an unreasonable expectation, but within nonetheless.

In 1995, Terry Glenn had 17 touchdown receptions. Two years later, David Boston had 14. Last season, Super Marv also had 14.

In 2021, JSN had 1,606. Both Boston and Glenn had seasons in the low 1,400s in the late ‘90s. Last year, Harrison had 1,263 (Emeka Egbuka had 1,151 in 2022 as well).

Also in 2021, Smith-Njigba had 95 receptions. Last season, Marv had 77, behind only JSN, behind only Parris Campbell (90) and Boston (85).

In those three categories, Marvin Harrison Jr. had a top-four statistical season in OSU history as a sophomore. So I do not think that it is unreasonable for him to exceed those as a junior. Now, what might be unreasonable is that last year he had a seasoned, second-year starting, two-time Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback throwing to him from behind a pretty solid offensive line. Those things will not be the same this year.

However, I do believe that Kyle McCord will end up being the start this year and will prove to be more than competent at quarterback. And, considering the history that the QB and WR have together, going back to their high school days at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia, I think that will likely mean that Marv will be McCord’s security blanket.

He is already, obviously, going to be the No. 1 target this season, and despite the fact that opposing defenses will undoubtedly be doing everything in their power to stop him, I don’t believe that there is anything that they can do to substantively slow him down — especially if he does play more in the slot like we saw during the spring.

As I wrote about multiple times last week, the offensive line is my biggest concern for the Buckeyes this season, so that very well could put a bit of a kink in my Marv-G.O.A.T. season prediction... but maybe not.

If McCord has less time to throw, not only could he look for his most trusted receiver more often, but perhaps that means games are a bit closer than OSU is used to, so Harrison will have to play longer than he might have otherwise. And, if he is getting a bit more run in the slot, maybe he can be used as a quick-hit receiver to get the ball out of McCord’s (or perhaps Devin Brown’s) hands.

I do expect the Buckeyes to run the ball more this season as well, given the depth of talent at the running back position, but I don’t think that will dramatically impact Marv’s numbers. With Egbuka, Julian Fleming, Xavier Johnson, and all of the incredibly talented true-freshman wide receivers in the room — not to mention a returning Cade Stover at tight end — there are going to be so many weapons for Ryan Day and new offensive coordinator Brian Hartline to play with that defenses won’t be able to focus on just one. And, in circumstances like that, the best of the bunch always benefits.

So, my unreasonable expectation is for Marvin Harrison Jr. to end the 2023 college football season not only in New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist, but also having had the greatest single season in Ohio State wide receiving history