Being Drafted at No. 4 Overall A “Surreal Moment” for Marvin Harrison Jr., Who Now Looks to Back Up Selection with His Play

By Dan Hope on April 26, 2024 at 1:16 am
Marvin Harrison Jr.
Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports

Going into the NFL draft, Marvin Harrison Jr. said he wasn’t worried about whether or not he would be the first wide receiver drafted. After he was the first wide receiver drafted – the first non-quarterback drafted, for that matter – Harrison admitted it meant something to be taken before any other receiver.

What hasn’t changed, though, is his outlook that what he does now that he’s been drafted matters more than where he was drafted on Thursday night.

“I think it means a lot – a little bit,” Harrison said during his post-draft press conference. “To be the first receiver and obviously the first offensive player not a quarterback, it does mean a lot but at the end of the day, you gotta go out there and produce once the season comes.”

Harrison, who became the highest-drafted wide receiver in Ohio State history when the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the No. 4 overall pick, tweeted before the draft that watching others get drafted and hoping to one day be in their shoes was his biggest source of motivation growing up. Seeing that dream come to fruition on Thursday was special for the former Buckeye star, and he made sure he took the time to appreciate the moment.

“That was such a surreal moment that you kind of dream of since you were a little kid,” Harrison said. “I just wanted to try to soak it in as much as I can, and just be in the moment.”

Harrison shared the moment with some of his closest family, friends and supporters. His father, Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison Sr., was in the green room with his son as they became the first-ever father-son duo to both be drafted in the first round as wide receivers. So too was Ohio State coach Ryan Day, and Harrison Jr. was grateful that Day made the trip to Detroit to celebrate with him.

“Coach Day is so special to me. He's one of the first coaches that started recruiting me when I was a freshman in high school. And we built that relationship up all throughout the recruiting process and all the things that he's done for me and my family has been tremendous,” Harrison said. “I'm super thankful that I can share this moment with him.”

Even after being drafted, Harrison still expressed some wistfulness about his Ohio State career being over, saying his time as a Buckeye “went by so fast” and that his advice to players who are still in college is to make sure they “enjoy the process.” But he’s confident that he’s ready to play at the next level.

“I think I’m built for it. I think I’ve been training for this my whole life,” Harrison said. “This has always been my goal to play in the NFL. There’s gonna be some learning curve, but hopefully I’ll learn fast.”

Harrison didn’t want to set any specific goals on Thursday night, saying he plans to start his time in Arizona by taking things “one day at a time,” though he said Wednesday that one of his goals would be to follow in the footsteps of Garrett Wilson and C.J. Stroud by winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Since he was the No. 4 overall draft pick and was a two-time unanimous All-American at Ohio State, everyone else’s expectations for Harrison will be similarly high. That’s especially true based on the success of the last wide receiver to be selected as a top-five overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald, who will join Harrison Sr. in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a couple of years.

“That was such a surreal moment that you kind of dream of since you were a little kid.”– Marvin Harrison Jr. on getting drafted

Harrison hopes to have similar success to Fitzgerald in the NFL, but he isn’t going to try to be exactly like Fitzgerald.

“I'm gonna just go in there and be me. I’m not gonna try to be anybody else,” Harrison said. “Hopefully I can have the career that Larry had, that would be amazing, but like I said, I’m just gonna go there, try to be me, work as hard as I can and help the team win football games.”

Harrison will try to emulate the success that other recent Ohio State wide receivers like Wilson, Chris Olave and Terry McLaurin have had in the NFL, and he’s excited to reunite with his former Ohio State teammate Paris Johnson Jr., who the Cardinals selected in the first round of last year’s draft.

“It would be really cool,” Harrison said Wednesday when asked about the possibility of playing with Johnson. “Paris was one of the first guys that I got to meet with when I first got there. He was in the 2020 class, but he's a great guy, really. Someone I can bond with on and off the field.”

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