The Top 12 Catches That Made Marvin Harrison Jr. Ohio State’s First-Ever Unanimous All-American Wide Receiver

By Dan Hope on December 25, 2022 at 8:35 am
Marvin Harrison Jr. vs. Indiana

Earlier this month, Marvin Harrison Jr. became the first unanimous All-American wide receiver in Ohio State history. If you watched Harrison play during the regular season, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

While it’s striking that none of the many great wide receivers to come through Ohio State before Harrison ever earned unanimous All-American honors, it’s not much of a stretch to say Harrison’s play this year has been as good as any receiver the Buckeyes have ever had.

The numbers back that up, as Harrison has caught 72 passes for 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns this year – numbers that rank sixth, fourth and tied for fifth in Ohio State history.

That said, no statistic can do justice to how spectacular Harrison has been this year. Only the video of his best catches of the year can do that.

While fellow unanimous All-American receiver Jalin Hyatt of Tennessee edged out Harrison for the Biletnikoff Award, to the chagrin of Ohio State fans and even Harrison himself, he made a strong case for being the best pass-catcher in college football – and a future top-10 NFL draft pick even though he’s not even draft-eligible yet – by making one amazing grab after another throughout the 2022 season.

As such, it wasn’t an easy task to rank Harrison’s best catches of the regular season, as the number of grabs that were legitimate candidates to make this list extended well into the double digits. But we took our best shot at identifying the 12 receptions by No. 18 so far this year – with the potential for more highlight-reel snags to come in the College Football Playoff – that left no doubt he belonged on every All-American team this year.

12. Mossing a man in the end zone vs. Michigan State

While Harrison’s own father is one of the greatest receivers in NFL history, he looked like another Pro Football Hall of Famer on this catch. In a play reminiscent of Randy Moss, Harrison fought through defensive pass interference by Michigan State cornerback Charles Brantley and pulled the ball in over his opponent’s head for a 19-yard touchdown catch on Ohio State’s opening drive – his first of three touchdown catches he’d make against the Spartans.

11. Long touchdown between defenders vs. Arkansas State

Before the Michigan State game, Harrison had another three-touchdown game in Ohio State’s second game of the year against Arkansas State. The highlight among those scoring catches was the final touchdown of the hat trick, as he made a leaping grab in between two defenders on a perfectly placed 30-yard pass from C.J. Stroud to cap off a seven-catch, 184-yard performance that earned him Big Ten co-offensive player of the week honors.

10. Sideline catch through tight coverage vs. Michigan

While Ohio State didn’t have a good day overall in its regular-season finale against Michigan, Harrison had his share of moments in The Game, catching seven passes for 120 yards. That performance included a 42-yard touchdown, but his best catch of the day was his first catch of the day when he fought through tight coverage by Michigan cornerback DJ Turner and caught the ball while going to the ground, all the while getting both feet in bounds along the sideline for a 19-yard reception.

9. Clean over-the-shoulder catch against Michigan State

This was the longest reception of Harrison’s seven-catch, 131-yard day against Michigan State, and it was a textbook example of an over-the-shoulder sideline grab executed to perfection. He paid off one of Stroud’s finest throws of the season by getting a step on Spartan cornerback Ameer Speed and hauling the ball in over his outside shoulder while getting both feet down inside the boundary for a 32-yard gain.

8. Tight-ropes the goal line against Iowa

The left front corner of the end zone has been a popular touchdown-scoring spot for Harrison this season, and he made one of several toe-tapping catches in that spot during Ohio State’s seventh game of the year against Iowa. Facing 4th-and-1 from the 6-yard line, Harrison took advantage of the Buckeyes’ decision to go for it by running a clean out route against All-Big Ten cornerback Riley Moss and deftly getting his feet down in bounds along the goal line while making the catch. 

7. A spinning midair adjustment vs. Indiana

Harrison often makes difficult catches look easy, and this was a prime example of that. Initially looking to his inside, Harrison had to adjust to Stroud throwing the ball to his outside shoulder. He did so with little trouble, spinning around in midair to make a smooth hands catch out away from his body for a 25-yard gain.

6. One-handed catch through DPI vs. Maryland

It took only one play for Harrison to make a spectacular catch in Ohio State’s penultimate game of the regular season against Maryland. On the game’s very first play from scrimmage, Harrison made a one-handed catch for a 29-yard gain despite being wrapped up by Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks, who was flagged for a pass interference penalty that didn’t matter thanks to Harrison’s terrific grab.

5. Leaping grab through triple coverage vs. Iowa

This catch was so good it prompted Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt to predict Harrison “will be the best receiver in the NFL in about 4 or 5 years.” With three defenders in Harrison’s vicinity, Stroud trusted his star receiver to make a play anyway and Harrison delivered, making an 18-yard reception as he went to the ground even with Iowa safety Quinn Schulte draped around his back.

4. Two feet down in back of end zone vs. Toledo

Both of Harrison’s two touchdown catches against Toledo were of the toe-tapping variety, and they make up back-to-back spots on our list, starting with the second one. Stroud’s throw to the back of the end zone was a bit high, but that was no problem for Harrison, who leaped up and got both hands around the football while tapping his feet down on scarlet paint for a 7-yard score.

3. Two feet down in corner of end zone vs. Toledo

While Harrison’s second touchdown catch was an impressive example of his body control, the first one was even better. Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell was in good position to contest the catch in the left front corner of the end zone, but Harrison did a remarkable job of tilting his body toward the sideline to make an extended catch where Mitchell couldn’t get a hand on the ball while still both of his feet down on the turf inside the boundary to leave no doubt it was a catch that counted.

2. Spinning catch in corner of end zone vs. Michigan State

Harrison returned to the left front corner of the end zone against Michigan State for his most impressive touchdown catch of the entire regular season. With Brantley on his inside shoulder, Harrison turned around in midair to catch a Stroud deep ball thrown slightly behind him, then managed to get both feet down on green grass and extend the ball across the goal line before his momentum took him out of bounds for a 19-yard touchdown catch.

1. An unbelievable one-footed catch against Indiana

While there’s plenty of room for debate about how the other 11 catches on this list should be ranked, it wasn’t hard to choose Harrison’s best catch of the year. Harrison himself said he thought it was his best catch of the year, and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit recently named it the best catch of the year in all of college football.

In an unbelievable display of contortion that spawned the how-is-that-not-Photoshopped picture at the top of the page by Eleven Warriors’ own Garrick Hodge, Harrison somehow managed to get his inside foot down in bounds before his outside leg touched down out of bounds after leaping high up into the air to make a 12-yard catch for a 3rd-and-10 conversion on a pass that likely would have been incomplete if thrown to just about any other receiver in college football.

Three-time NFL All-Pro wide receiver Chad Johnson was among those who praised Harrison’s catch after the fact and he explained what made it such a difficult and impressive play.

View 27 Comments