Joel Klatt Says Marvin Harrison Jr. Was “Definitively” The Best Receiver in College Football Last Year, Ohio State “Probably Should Be the No. 1 Team in the Country” This Year

By Dan Hope on April 24, 2024 at 5:19 pm
Joel Klatt

During Joel Klatt’s pre-draft media availability in Detroit on Wednesday, a reporter from Baton Rouge, Louisiana asked Klatt if he thought LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers was snubbed for the Biletnikoff Award last year.

Anyone who watched Klatt call an Ohio State football game in the past two years probably already knows the answer to that question.

Klatt consistently gushed about Harrison while commentating Ohio State games on FOX for the past two seasons. Before Harrison was even draft-eligible, Klatt boldly proclaimed that Harrison would be a future NFL superstar.

“I truly believe that this man right here on your screen will be the best receiver in the NFL in about four or five years,” Klatt said after Harrison made a spectacular catch during Ohio State’s 54-10 win over Iowa in 2022.

Klatt felt confident praising Harrison with such conviction because of everything he had heard from Harrison’s Ohio State teammates and Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline.

“Every time I was in that building, he would be on the JUGS gun catching the football. And then I would talk to his teammates and his coaches and I would say like, ‘All right, tell me about this guy as a worker, tell me how he is with schematics.’ And every one of them, whether it was Garrett Wilson when he was there or Chris Olave when he was there, they all said to me, every one of them: ‘The best player in our room is Marvin Harrison Jr.,’” Klatt said Wednesday. “I trusted Brian Hartline and Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. When they told me Marvin was better than them, I believed them.”

With Harrison now one day away from becoming one of the top picks in the 2024 NFL draft, Klatt feels just as strongly that Harrison is destined for greatness at the next level.

“He does everything well,” Klatt said. “His polish as a route runner and ability to finish and contort his body, it makes him almost uncoverable in a lot of ways. And there's a lot of great receivers in this draft. It’s an incredible wide receiver draft. But to me, he immediately is a No. 1 wide receiver that can win in the playoffs.”

There has been chatter in the days leading up to the draft that a significant number of NFL teams view Nabers, not Harrison, as the best receiver in this year’s draft. Klatt says he’s heard the same from his NFL sources.

Nabers was more productive than Harrison last season, catching 89 passes for 1,569 yards and 14 touchdowns compared to Harrison’s 67 catches for 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns. But Klatt dismissed the notion that Nabers deserved the Biletnikoff more than Harrison.

“That's so difficult. Malik had great players around him. And that's not a knock, but he also had a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback,” Klatt said. “I didn't cover Malik. I covered Marvin, a lot. And Marvin was the best wide receiver in college football. He was the most complete and best receiver in the sport. I hate it to say it so definitively because everybody’s like ‘Well, why do you hate Nabers?’ I don't. Nabers is really an incredible player. But I don't think he got snubbed.”

“To me, he immediately is a No. 1 wide receiver that can win in the playoffs.”– Joel Klatt on Marvin Harrison Jr.

Despite the pre-draft buzz surrounding Nabers, Klatt says he still believes the Arizona Cardinals will draft Marvin Harrison Jr. with the No. 4 overall pick. But he admitted he’d find it funny if Harrison falls one spot further and gets drafted by Jim Harbaugh’s Los Angeles Chargers.

“Maybe this is just the college fan in me, but part of me would love Arizona to trade with somebody and then a quarterback goes No. 4 and Jim Harbaugh has to take Marvin Harrison Jr.,” Klatt said. “I would love that. But again, I’m a college guy.”

While Klatt will be a part of NFL Network’s draft coverage this weekend, he’ll soon be back to preparing for the 2024 college football season as FOX’s lead college football analyst, a role in which he’ll undoubtedly call multiple Ohio State games this season.

Klatt was just in Columbus two weekends ago for FOX’s broadcast of Ohio State’s spring game, and he came away impressed by what he saw from the upcoming iteration of the Buckeyes. He believes Ohio State could be the best team in the sport this season, though he doesn’t think the Buckeyes will be No. 1 in the preseason polls because of their uncertainty at quarterback.

“I think they probably should be the No. 1 team in the country to start the season,” Klatt said. “The fact that they have questions at the quarterback position will prevent them from probably being the No. 1 team in the country to start the season. And they'll start No. 2 with legitimate national title hopes, for sure.”

While Klatt thinks quarterback is enough of a question mark for the Buckeyes that they might not enter the season as the national championship favorite, he thinks potential Ohio State starter Will Howard is capable of leading the Buckeyes to success.

“Will is incredibly steady,” Klatt said. “His size allows him to, I would say negate numbers, particularly in the run game. And that helps. Now is he the most dynamic guy? No, I don't think he is. But he is a steady player. His teammates loved him. He makes good decisions. He throws it better than I think people give him credit for. And you would have to at least tip your cap like, he beat that TCU team. He won the Big 12 championship game. So he's won a championship. I think that type of pedigree and experience pays dividends in a locker room.”

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