COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. enters his junior season with outside expectations of not only being the best receiver in the country in 2023 but the best player.
“Me? Me I’m the best player?” Harrison asked, surprised, after practice last week.
The numbers from 2022 show the potential to be the best is there. In his first season as a starter, Harrison became the ninth Buckeye to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in emerging from the shadow of his namesake and father, a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Harrison ranked sixth in the nation in receiving yards, fourth in receiving touchdowns and eighth in receiving yards per game while sharing the field with Emeka Egbuka, who also gained more than 1,000 yards.
“You know I think you’ve got to go out there and prove [you’re the best],” Harrison said. “I would say last year is last year … but you’ve got to live up to it during this season.”
Harrison isn’t focused on being the best player in the country or best receiver to ever come through Columbus. But his work ethic and mind set might help him achieve both.
“There’s always room to get better everywhere whether that’s getting out of your breaks faster, ball skills but I think one thing in particular that I’m kind of focused on is just making plays after the catch,” Harrison said.
Harrison ranked 51st nationally last season in yards per reception. That statistic isn’t entirely indicative of yards after a catch, but it does illustrate Harrison’s point that there’s room for improvement.
“I think he has perspective and wants to chase his dad,” offensive coordinator and receivers coach Brian Hartline said. “The smallmindedness, really, I don’t think Marvin has ever possessed that. He’s always been pushed to think big.”
There’s also motivation fueling Harrison’s drive to get better after not being named college football’s best receiver for the 2022 season.
“Anybody who has two eyes could’ve saw he should’ve gotten that,” Hartline said.
“It definitely does bother me,” Harrison said. “I think I definitely deserved it. I mean Jalin [Hyatt] had a great year as well at Tennessee, but, yeah, I think I deserved it.”
He’ll have to show he deserves it in 2023 while catching passes from a new quarterback. This spring, Kyle McCord and Devin Brown are competing for the top job, but Harrison already has chemistry with McCord, who went to high school for three years with Harrison at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia.
“I think we definitely have a connection just going back to when we were sophomores in high school,” he said. “Obviously the more you throw with someone the more connection you get and he kind of knows what I’m doing and I know what he’s doing.”
Harrison added he developed a connection with Brown last year and added the second-year QB from Utah has the “athletic edge” over McCord. Whoever ends up starting will have the advantage of throwing to Harrison and Egbuka — two of the best receivers in college football.