Former Ohio State Wide Receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.'s Hardworking, Elite Reputation Carrying Over to Arizona Cardinals

By Andy Anders on July 9, 2024 at 10:10 am
Marvin Harrison Jr.
Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Broadcaster Gus Johnson nicknamed Marvin Harrison Jr. “Maserati Marv” in 2023, but behind the scenes at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, his nickname could have been Marvin Monarc.

Ryan Day and Brian Hartline often referenced and reporters often bore witness to the amount of time Harrison spent on Ohio State's Monarc pass-catching machine. In fact, if you go to Monarc’s company website, the first thing you’ll see is a montage of the former Buckeye wide receiver catching throws from their creation.

That and one could say he's a monarch on the field. His play is certainly kingly.

“I think the legacy he left is a legacy of work ethic,” Day said in a 12-minute Ohio State documentary of Harrison’s career released in May. “In particular that (Monarc) machine, just being out here for hours. After a game I was here at the Woody one time. The game was over, (it was) about three hours after the game and he was in the Woody, back on the (Monarc), catching the ball. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. His work ethic, his commitment to excellence will be long remembered here at Ohio State.”

Harrison held a reputation for dedicating trucks full of time to his craft in Columbus, and that reputation is already carrying over to the NFL. Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon and Harrison’s new teammates are already seeing that fact – perhaps to too great an extent in the former’s case.

“He’s extremely detailed,” Gannon said on June 5. “He does a lot of extra (work), probably too much. I’m going to be fighting him about that. But he’s just like everybody else right now, kinda getting out there and he’s gonna make some mistakes and learn from his mistakes. ... I like how he’s jumped in and he’s doing a good job.”

Harrison’s incredible career at Ohio State has been recounted in great detail on many occasions since he played his last game for the Buckeyes eight months ago. Known first as the son of a Pro Football Hall of Famer, Harrison made a name for himself nationally in 2022 and 2023 with back-to-back 1,200-yard receiving seasons, capped by a Biletnikoff Award and selection as a Heisman Trophy finalist in the latter year.

Following his junior campaign achieving heights rarely obtained by a collegiate receiver, Harrison pulled the trigger and entered the 2024 NFL draft, where the Cardinals took him fourth overall in the first round. Three straight losses to Michigan and a smattering of his 2021 recruiting classmates returning to OSU made going pro a more difficult decision for Harrison than many might think, per Day, even with top-five pick projections.

“I've never been in a situation where you talk somebody into either decision. Marvin had to make a decision. He decided that he was going to go take the next step. I think it was hard for him, by the way,” Day told FOX broadcaster Joel Klatt during The Joel Klatt Show on Monday, drawing a shocked “Really?” from Klatt. “Not to put his stuff out there, but nobody’s been in the building more than him.”

With OTAs wrapping up on June 6 for the Cardinals, Harrison’s focus has now shifted to learning his team’s playbook and building bonds with his teammates.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Harrison said. “Obviously, I’ve got a lot of confidence in my abilities going forward, but I think the mental aspect is the most important right now, just learning the playbook, learning where I need to be for Kyler (Murray), gaining trust from my teammates and coaches.”

Murray, Arizona’s quarterback, has in turn been struck by Harrison’s abilities and work ethic. Harrison projects as a starter for the Cardinals this year and worked his way from the back of the line for receiver drills at the beginning of the team's minicamp to the front of those same lines at its end.

That detail may sound trivial to some, but in Arizona’s organization, that’s a role typically reserved for veterans and decided on by its players. It’s an early recognition of not only Harrison’s talent but also his high-level approach to the game.

“He plays the game at a high level,” Murray said. “It’s a new level for him, but I have no doubt that he’ll go do his thing this year and win whatever (award) he wants to. I think he’s gonna be that type of guy, I know how much he loves the game just sitting there talking to him. His energy and what he’s gonna mean to the team, I think everybody should be excited about him.”

"It’s a new level for him, but I have no doubt that he’ll go do his thing this year and win whatever (award) he wants to."– Kyler Murray on Marvin Harrison Jr.

In addition to finding the techniques that work best for him and learning more about the overall game, Gannon said Harrison will need to acclimate to the speed and variety of skill sets found in NFL defensive backs. Other than that, however, he feels Harrison’s transition to pro ball has been smooth.

“Pretty seamless,” Gannon said. “What he will need to adjust to is the speed of the game, guys playing different techniques, different body types on him when he’s one-on-one with different corners, because Week 1 is gonna be different than Week 2 and all that stuff.”

As he keeps his high-working mentality going through his adjustment to the professional game, Harrison said that it will stay the same game he's played since his childhood.

“It’s just football at the end of the day,” Harrison said. “You get a chance to step back there and realize you’re out there living a dream. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing and I get to do that every single day. So I try not to put too much pressure on myself, just go out there and be me and just relax.”

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