Marvin Harrison Jr. Reigns Supreme Among Ohio State’s Top 10 Wide Receivers of All-Time

By Dan Hope and Matt Gutridge on April 23, 2024 at 10:10 am
Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison Jr.

Is Marvin Harrison Jr. Ohio State’s best wide receiver ever? As Harrison is likely to become Ohio State’s first-ever top-five NFL draft pick at the position later this week, we put our heads together to determine where he ranks among the Buckeyes’ all-time great wideouts.

The consensus among our staff and Eleven Warriors readers: Harrison reigns supreme in the history of Buckeye pass-catchers.

Harrison made Ohio State history by twice earning unanimous All-American honors, an accolade that had never previously been earned even once by an Ohio State wide receiver. His unmatched list of achievements at Ohio State also include becoming a Heisman Trophy finalist, winning the Big Ten Silver Football and Offensive Player of the Year awards and becoming the first-ever Buckeye to catch three touchdown passes in a single game three times.

He did it all with an unforgettable flair for making spectacular catches that forced defenses to game plan around him – usually unsuccesfully – and made him one of college football’s biggest superstars for the past two years.

A rare talent who has just about every trait an NFL team could want in a wide receiver prospect – an elite combination of size, speed, route-running skill, hands, body control and work ethic – Harrison is considered a virtual lock to be a top-five pick on Thursday, further validating him as a unique talent at a position where Ohio State has had no shortage of greats, especially in recent years.

Ahead of the 2024 NFL draft, we teamed up with our readers to rank Ohio State’s 10 best wide receivers of all-time, collecting ballots from several staffers as well as votes from more than 500 members of the Eleven Warriors community to put together the rankings. The collective staff ballot and collective fans ballot each counted for 50% of the total vote in compiling the rankings.

With Emeka Egbuka having a chance to break Ohio State’s all-time receiving yards record this year and Jeremiah Smith already looking like a probable superstar for the Buckeyes, these rankings might need several updates in the years to come. 

There’s plenty of other receiving greats who had a case for being included on this list, too. Santonio Holmes finished just outside the top 10 in our voting. K.J. Hill is Ohio State’s all-time leader in receptions. Gary Williams held most of Ohio State’s all-time receiving records when his career ended in 1982. Michael Thomas and Devin Smith both warranted consideration after playing key roles for Ohio State’s most recent national championship team.

The following receivers, though, stand above the rest as the 10 best wideouts in Ohio State history following the conclusion of the 2023 season.

10. Michael Jenkins (2000-03)

Twenty years removed from his final season as a Buckeye, Jenkins remains Ohio State’s all-time leader in receiving yards. He was Ohio State’s leading receiver for three years in a row from 2001-03, topped by a 61-catch, 1,076-yard season in 2002, when he helped lead OSU to a national championship and made one of the most iconic plays in program history by catching the “Holy Buckeye” pass from Craig Krenzel in a comeback win over Purdue.

Consistently productive throughout his three years as a starter, Jenkins was also a team captain and earned team MVP honors in 2003. The No. 29 overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft, Jenkins went on to play in the league for nine seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings.

Reader comment: “Michael Jenkins is criminally underrated” – USMC11917

Jenkins’ Career Stats
Receptions Yards Avg. TDs Return Yards Return Avg. Return TDs
165 2,898 17.6 16 197 9.0 1

9. Joey Galloway (1991-94)

Thirty years removed from his Ohio State career, “The Bellaire Bullet” remains one of the most explosive playmakers to ever wear the scarlet and gray. A first-team All-Big Ten honoree and third-team All-American in 1993, Galloway followed that up by tying the school record at the time with 11 touchdown catches in 1994, when he was the team’s leading receiver for a second year in a row and a team captain.

Galloway ranked second in Ohio State history in career touchdown catches and fourth in both receptions and receiving yards when his OSU career concluded. He was the No. 8 overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft – making him the highest-drafted receiver in OSU history at the time – and went on to play in the league for 16 years, catching 701 passes for 10,950 yards and 77 touchdowns for his pro career.

Reader comment: “Just so incredibly fast and also quick in small spaces. He really just couldn’t be covered. You had to zone him and try to limit the damage afterwards. Washington came to the ‘Shoe with all kinda smack and Galloway destroyed them.” – RomoCLAMA

Galloway’s Career Stats
Receptions Yards Avg. TDs Return Yards Return Avg. Return TDs
108 1,894 17.5 19 765 14.2 1

8. Garrett Wilson (2019-21)

In what was effectively only two-and-a-half seasons at Ohio State due to the 2020 season being shortened by COVID-19, Wilson racked up 143 catches for 2,213 yards and 23 touchdowns – all marks that rank among the top 11 receivers in school history. A dynamic weapon who starred both outside and in the slot for the Buckeyes while also adding value as a runner and punt returner, Wilson earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2020 and first-team All-American recognition in 2021.

Wilson became Ohio State’s fifth all-time top-10 pick at the wide receiver position when the New York Jets selected him 10th overall in 2022. He earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in his first pro season and has already caught 178 passes for 2,145 yards in just two years in the league.

Reader comment: “Garrett Wilson is far too low, imo. It probably actually hurts him that he played alongside Olave and JSN. But talent-wise, I think he's second only to Marv and maybe Carter.” – JTFor President2016

Wilson’s Career Stats
Receptions Yards Avg. TDs Return Yards Return Avg. Return TDs
143 2,213 15.5 23 209 6.0 0

7. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (2020-22)

Smith-Njigba had the best statistical season of any Ohio State receiver ever in 2021 when he caught 95 passes for 1,606 yards, both single-season school records. He capped that season with the best game ever for an Ohio State receiver, catching 15 passes for 347 yards – both single-game school records – and three touchdowns in the Rose Bowl against Utah.

JSN ended up being a one-year wonder for the Buckeyes due to a hamstring injury suffered in the first quarter of Ohio State’s 2022 opener against Notre Dame that derailed his entire season. But his one full season as a starter for the Buckeyes set a standard at the position that all Ohio State receivers are now chasing.

Smith-Njigba is now entering his second year in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks as the No. 20 overall pick in the 2023 draft.

Smith-Njigba’s Career Stats
Receptions Yards Avg. TDs Return Yards Return Avg. Return TDs
110 1,698 15.4 10 71 6.5 0

6. Ted Ginn Jr. (2004-06)

Perhaps the most dangerous home-run hitter Ohio State has ever had, Ginn was a big play waiting to happen throughout his three-year Buckeye career. The Glenville product was a star as both a receiver and returner, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors as a wideout and first-team All-American honors as a return specialist.

Ginn’s 4,068 all-purpose yards are the most in school history for a non-running back. He holds the school records for career punt return touchdowns (six) and single-season punt return touchdowns (four) and is one of just three players in Ohio State history with two kickoff return touchdowns.

The No. 9 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, Ginn spent 14 seasons in the NFL, accumulating 412 catches for 5,742 yards and 33 touchdowns plus 9,523 combined kickoff and punt return yards with seven return touchdowns.

Reader comment: “Probably the most feared receiver of the group. Once he caught it in the open field no one was catching him.” – eph97

Ginn’s Career Stats
Receptions Yards Avg. TDs Return Yards Return Avg. Return TDs
135 1,943 14.4 15 1,912 18.7 8

5. Terry Glenn (1993-95)

While the first five receivers on this countdown all finished within a couple of points of each other in the combined staff and fan vote, the voting gap between the top five receivers and the next five receivers was larger than the gap from No. 1 to No. 5.

Even though he, like Smith-Njigba, was largely a one-year wonder at Ohio State, Glenn finished as a clear-cut top-five receiver in our balloting. He etched his name in Buckeye lore in 1995 when he became Ohio State’s first Biletnikoff Award winner. His 1,411 receiving yards and 17 receiving touchdowns were both single-season school records at the time, and the touchdown record still stands to this day.

Despite starting his Ohio State career as a walk-on, the Columbus native became the highest-drafted wide receiver in school history – at least until Thursday – when the New England Patriots selected him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft. He went on to catch 593 passes for 8,823 yards and 44 touchdowns in 12 NFL seasons.

Reader comment: “Averaged 21 yards a catch. Come on.” – Buckeye Chuck

Glenn’s Career Stats
Receptions Yards Avg. TDs Return Yards Return Avg. Return TDs
79 1,677 21.2 17 427 18.6 0

4. Chris Olave (2018-21)

In an era where first-round draft prospects often only play three years of college football, Olave played four seasons at Ohio State and became a legend in the process.

A four-year impact player for the Buckeyes, Olave had one of the most legendary performances in the history of The Game when he caught two touchdown passes and blocked a punt for another touchdown as a freshman against Michigan. He was Ohio State’s leading receiver in both 2019 and 2020 and earned first-team All-American honors in 2021, when he was also a team captain for the nation’s most prolific offense.

Olave’s 35 career touchdown catches are a school record. He likely would have broken the school record for receiving yards if the 2020 season hadn’t been shortened by COVID-19, as he finished his career just 187 yards behind Jenkins’ all-time mark.

The No. 11 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, Olave has quickly become a star for the New Orleans Saints, topping 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first two NFL seasons.

Reader comment: “I am not saying he is the best, but Olave is still the smoothest WR I can remember playing.” – Squatchy

Olave’s Career Stats
Receptions Yards Avg. TDs Return Yards Return Avg. Return TDs
175 2,702 15.4 35 37 12.3 0

3. Cris Carter (1984-86)

The first All-American wide receiver for a program that was known more for running the ball than passing the ball for most of its history, Carter remains an icon in Columbus nearly 40 years after he played for the Buckeyes. Even though his NFL career ended before some of Ohio State’s current receivers were even born, you’ll still hear his name mentioned by Buckeye pass-catchers today as a standard-bearer for their unit.

After just three years in Columbus, Carter finished his Ohio State career as the program’s all-time leader in receptions (168) and receiving touchdowns (27). A two-time All-Big Ten honoree, Carter still ranks in the top five in school history in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns even though Ohio State’s passing numbers have increased substantially over the past four decades.

Carter is also the most decorated NFL receiver in Ohio State history (not including Paul Warfield, who primarily played running back for the Buckeyes before moving to wide receiver in the NFL), earning induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. He ranks fourth in NFL history in receiving touchdowns (130) and sixth in league history in receptions (1,101).

Reader comment: “Carter was the most dominating. Even fully covered he came down with the ball. He did not have the QB talent working for him as well as a passing philosophy or his numbers would have been off the charts.” – Allinosu

Carter’s Career Stats
Receptions Yardse Avg. TDs Return Yards Return Avg. Return TDs
168 2,725 16.2 27 23 7.7 0

2. David Boston (1996-98)

No Ohio State receiver has ever been more statistically prolific across just three seasons as a Buckeye than Boston, who ranks second in school history in receptions (191), receiving yards (2,855) and touchdowns (34). He’s also Ohio State’s all-time leading punt returner with 959 yards on 98 returns, including two touchdowns.

A first-team All-American in 1998 and a two-time All-Big Ten selection, Boston was known for rising to the occasion in big moments. Boston’s iconic performances included catching the game-winning touchdown in the Rose Bowl against Arizona State as a freshman, a 10-catch, 231-yard, two-touchdown game against Michigan in 1998 and an 11-catch, 105-yard performance to win Sugar Bowl MVP honors in his final contest as a Buckeye.

Boston was the No. 8 overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft and went on to play in the league for nine seasons, leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2001.

Reader comment: “Uncoverable and as dominant as you will see with size and speed.” – LoufromOSU

Boston’s Career Stats
Receptions Yards Avg. TDs Return Yards Return Avg. Return TDs
191 2,855 14.9 34 959 9.8 2

1. Marvin Harrison Jr. (2021-23)

Even though he had a long line of legendary Ohio State receivers to measure up to, Harrison surpassed all of them to earn the title of greatest receiver in school history with his dominant play as a Buckeye.

Despite starting for just two years at Ohio State after backing up Olave, Wilson and Smith-Njigba for most of his freshman season, Harrison broke the school record with 15 career 100-yard games and became the first receiver in OSU history with two 1,000-yard seasons. He ranks third in school history in receiving touchdowns and sixth in both receptions and receiving yards and was unanimously regarded as one of if not the best player in college football for both of his years as a starter.

Combining prototypical physical attributes with tremendous polish, Harrison put up those numbers even as opponents frequently double-teamed him in coverage. And no Buckeye receiver has ever been better at making difficult catches look easy than Harrison, who had a constant presence on highlight reels with his acrobatic grabs.

The NFL chapter of Harrison’s career is still to be written, but it would come as a surprise to just about everyone if his stardom doesn’t continue at the next level. That’s why he’ll likely be the first non-quarterback off the board during Thursday night’s first round of the 2024 NFL draft.

Reader comment: “I don't believe in ‘bloodlines,’ but there's no question he knew the intricacies of the position better than any Buckeye I can remember.” – Buckeye Chuck

Harrison’s Career Stats
Receptions Yards Avg. TDs Return Yards Return Avg. Return TDs
155 2,613 16.9 31 0 0.0 0
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