Ohio State's wide receivers took their play to another level under second-year position coach Brian Hartline this past season. In addition to improving the on-field play of Buckeye's wide receivers, Hartline has also taken wide receiver recruiting to a level that few have seen before.
Beyond the four stud receivers that he signed in the 2020 class, Hartline has two more top-100 receivers already committed in the 2021 class: Jayden Ballard and Marvin Harrison Jr., the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison.
We focus on the latter in this film breakdown, and after looking at Harrison Jr.'s film, it is clear to see that the elder Harrison passed his receiving talent and technique on to his son.
Harrison Jr. also has the luxury of having 2021 five-star Ohio State quarterback commitment Kyle McCord throwing the ball to him. However, Harrison Jr. took his play to another level this past season even after McCord suffered an injury late in the year. Harrison Jr. finished his junior year with 47 catches for 1,033 yards and 15 touchdowns while leading his team to a second straight state title.
There is no doubt that Harrison Jr. has great genes and was groomed by his father to be a talented player, but he wasn't recruited by the Buckeyes simply because of his name. Standing at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Harrison Jr. is a natural pass catcher who runs great routes and can take it to the house any time he touches the ball. Those three skills are what make him such a high-level player in his own right, and we'll take a closer look at them now.
The wide receiver position is full of very gifted athletes, but not all of them are naturally good at catching the football. For Harrison Jr., his hands are what makes him such a great prospect.
Here are four plays from Harrison's junior film that highlight his natural pass-catching talent:
- Play one: Lined up at the top of the screen as the outside receiver, Harrison Jr. runs a post route and reads that the ball is high out of his break. He then makes the adjustment to go and get the high throw and brings it down with ease.
- Play two: Top of the screen, wide to the left. Harrison Jr. fakes the slant then breaks his route to the sideline with the defensive back trailing. The defender quickly catches up to him but has his back turned to the football, so McCord perfectly places the pass high where Harrison easily corrals it through the defender.
- Play three: Top of the screen, wide to the left. Harrison Jr. stutters off the line to freeze the defender then breaks his route outside for a fade. The pass is thrown slightly long and outside, but Harrison Jr. adjusts to it, making a fully extended toe-tapping catch on the sideline.
- Play four: Left of the screen, lined up out wide. Similar to the first play, Harrison Jr. runs a post pattern but has to go up to get the ball. He does so effortlessly while absorbing contact from a defensive back on the way down.
Even though having great speed helps, the easiest way for a wide receiver to get open is to run a very crisp route. This is the part of Harrison Jr.'s game where having a Hall of Fame father really shows, because he understands the small details of running routes.
Whether it be his movement off the line, head fakes or understanding where he needs to get to, Harrison Jr. just knows how to get himself open, as the following four plays show.
- Play one: Top of the screen, wide to the left. Harrison Jr. perfectly sells a slant route on the goal line, getting the defender to bite. Once that happens, he breaks to the back corner of the end zone and gets wide open for an easy touchdown.
- Play two: Top of the screen, wide to the left. Harrison Jr. sells the fade route on the goal line. Fearing Harrison Jr.'s speed and catching ability, the defender bites. As soon as the defender goes, Harrison Jr. breaks back to the ball and is wide open.
- Play three: Bottom of the screen, wide to the right. This is the same exact route as play one just to the opposite side of the field. Harrison Jr. runs a perfect sluggo route with a hard fake slant before running to the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
- Play four: Bottom of the screen, wide to the left. Scared of Harrison Jr.'s ability to run by him on the deep route, the defender plays very far off. Harrison Jr. reads this and sells the deep route before breaking back to the sideline, where he catches the ball then turns downfield for a touchdown.
Electric with the ball in his hands
One of the more underrated parts of Harrison Jr.'s skill set is his ability to take the ball to the house every time he touches it. Whether it be short routes or screen passes, he has the speed and elusiveness to potentially score any time he catches the ball.
The four plays below highlight Harrison Jr.'s ability to make plays after the catch.
- Play one: Top of the screen, wide to the right. Harrison Jr. runs a very crisp post route, then evades three defenders after catching the ball. He breaks another ankle tackle on his way to the end zone for a diving touchdown.
- Play two: Lined up in the backfield, Harrison Jr. is used as a decoy here before motioning out for screen pass. He catches the ball and turns on the jets, going untouched to the end zone for a touchdown.
- Play three: Lined up out wide to the left, Harrison Jt. breaks inside to catch a screen pass then shakes a defender and outruns the rest on his way to a touchdown.
- Play four: Top of the screen, wide to the left. Harrison Jr. runs a five-yard comeback and breaks a tackle to turn a short catch into a big gain.