The Iconic Moments and Elite Accomplishments That Made Marvin Harrison Jr. An Ohio State Legend

By Dan Hope on January 12, 2024 at 8:35 am
Marvin Harrison Jr. vs. Penn State

Marvin Harrison Jr.’s Ohio State career is over, but it won’t soon be forgotten.

When Harrison arrived at Ohio State three years ago, he was known mostly for being the son of a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Now, Marvin Harrison Jr. is a household name of his own making after a dominant three-year career in Columbus in which he was arguably the best wide receiver Ohio State has ever had.

Harrison’s stardom is likely only beginning. After officially entering the 2024 NFL draft on Thursday, he is a virtual lock to be the first Ohio State wide receiver ever drafted with a top-five overall pick. He has all the traits needed both on and off the field to quickly become one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers.

Before his NFL career begins, though, every Ohio State fan should take some time to remember and appreciate just how great Harrison was as a Buckeye.

Ohio State never beat Michigan or won a championship with Harrison, which he has acknowledged left his Ohio State career incomplete. But the lack of those accomplishments is no fault of his own. Individually, Harrison was a huge reason why Ohio State won 11 games in each of the last three seasons. And his play on the field as well as his work ethic and character off the field set a standard for current and future Ohio State receivers to emulate for years to come.

It’s time to look back at the dominant performances, spectacular catches and long list of accolades that cement Harrison’s standing as an Ohio State legend.

Four three-touchdown games

It didn’t take long for Harrison to show Ohio State fans how great he could be. In his first-ever start for the Buckeyes in the final game of his freshman season, Harrison caught three touchdowns in the Rose Bowl to help lead Ohio State to a 48-45 victory over Utah.

That performance firmly established Harrison as a budding star entering his sophomore season, and he backed up the preseason hype with two more three-touchdown games in the first half of 2022. He caught seven passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns against Arkansas State and seven passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns at Michigan State.

Harrison is the only player in Ohio State history to catch three touchdown passes in three separate games. And he did it in his first seven starts as a Buckeye.

Route Man Marv never had three touchdown catches in a single game again as a Buckeye, but he did score three times against Michigan State again this past season, catching a pair of touchdown passes after starting the game by scoring the only rushing touchdown of his Ohio State career.

Harrison caught 14 touchdown passes in each of his final two seasons at Ohio State, tied for the second-most in a single season behind only Terry Glenn’s 17 touchdown catches in 1995. His 31 career touchdown catches are the third-most in school history behind only Chris Olave (35) and David Boston (34).

Ohio State’s All-Time Touchdown Catch Leaders
Rank Player TDs Years
1 CHRIS OLAVE 35 2018-21
2 DAVID BOSTON 34 1996-98
3 MARVIN HARRISON JR. 31 2021-23
4 DEVIN SMITH 30 2011-14
5 CRIS CARTER 27 1984-86

Two big games against Penn State

A Philadelphia native, Harrison was at his best in his two starts against Penn State, putting together two of the finest games of his Buckeye career to lead Ohio State to close victories over the Nittany Lions in back-to-back seasons.

Harrison set his Ohio State career-high in receiving yards against Penn State with 185 receiving yards in Beaver Stadium in 2022. All 10 of his catches against the Nittany Lions went for first downs, playing a crucial role in the Buckeyes’ 44-31 win in State College.

Penn State decided to play single-man coverage on most plays against Harrison two years in a row, and Harrison made them pay both times. While his matchup with Kalen King drew lots of attention in the week leading up to this past season’s Ohio State-Penn State game, Harrison won that matchup easily, setting a career-high in receptions with 11 catches for 162 yards and a score in Ohio State’s 20-12 win.

Harrison made a habit of putting up big numbers in big games, catching seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown against Michigan in 2022 and five catches for 118 yards and a TD in Ann Arbor in 2023. He had five catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns in just three quarters against Georgia before he was knocked out of the game with a concussion.

In total, Harrison topped 100 receiving yards in 15 different games as a Buckeye, setting a school record for career 100-yard receiving games. He tied David Boston’s single-season record with eight 100-yard outings in just 12 contests in 2023.

Harrison’s 2,613 receiving yards – all but 139 of which were accumulated in his final two seasons as a Buckeye – are the sixth-most of any receiver in Ohio State history. He’s the only Buckeye to ever top 1,000 receiving yards in two separate seasons.

Most 100-Yard Receiving Games in Ohio State History
Rank Player Games Years
1 MARVIN HARRISON JR. 15 2021-23
2 DAVID BOSTON 14 1996-98
3 CHRIS OLAVE 11 2018-21
4 MICHAEL JENKINS 10 2001-03
4 GARRETT WILSON 10 2019-21

So many spectacular catches

As great as Harrison’s numbers at Ohio State were, no statistic can fully illustrate Harrison’s greatness. You have to watch the highlights to get the full picture of what makes Harrison such a special talent.

You’ve already seen some spectacular catches from Harrison if you’ve watched the videos above, but there are plenty more catches from Harrison’s Ohio State career that are also worth watching again.

Toe-tapping catches in the end zone were one of Harrison’s specialties as a Buckeye, such as his two scoring grabs against Toledo in 2022 and his outstanding 19-yard catch over Wisconsin cornerback Nyzier Fourqurean in 2023.

Harrison often made even the most concerted efforts from Big Ten defenses to stop him look futile, such as when he made a catch in between triple coverage against Iowa in 2022:

Harrison’s one-handed 29-yard catch through pass interference against Maryland in 2022 was one worth watching again, as was his 44-yard catch while being tackled by Michigan cornerback Will Johnson in 2023.

The signature catch of Harrison’s Ohio State career, though, will forever be the catch he made against Indiana in 2022. Harrison somehow managed to get one foot down in bounds – on an ankle that was later revealed to have been sprained for most of the season – before the rest of his body landed out of bounds for a sideline catch that looked like it shouldn’t have been humanly possible.

Even the line judge looked like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, as captured in this photo by our own Garrick Hodge.

Marvin Harrison Jr.

Unmatched accolades

Before 2022, no Ohio State wide receiver had ever been named a unanimous All-American. Harrison achieved that honor in both 2022 and 2023, becoming just the fifth player in Ohio State history to earn unanimous All-American recognition twice.

He became just Ohio State’s second-ever winner of the Biletnikoff Award, joining Glenn, when he won that award in 2023 – after he probably should have already won it in 2022 – as college football’s top pass catcher.

He became just the third wide receiver ever to win the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year award and just the second wide receiver to win the Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year award twice. He became just the fifth wide receiver to win the Silver Football, which honors the Big Ten’s most valuable player as selected by the conference’s coaches. He became just the 10th wide receiver to be invited to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist since the Heisman Trust began inviting multiple finalists to the ceremony in 1981.

Harrison is the first Ohio State wide receiver to check each of those boxes, making him the most decorated wide receiver in school history – and one of the most accoladed Ohio State players across all positions – from an individual perspective.

It was undisputed throughout Harrison’s two seasons as a starter that he was one of the best if not the best player in college football, and he holds a permanent place in Buckeye lore as one of the greatest players to ever wear the scarlet and gray.

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