Ohio State Football: Marvin Harrison Jr.’s Heisman campaign has officially begun

Oct. 14, 2023; Lafayette, In., USA;Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) was all smiles after a 41-7 win over the Purdue Boilermakers in Saturday's NCAA Division I football game at Ross-Ade Stadium in Lafayette.
Oct. 14, 2023; Lafayette, In., USA;Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) was all smiles after a 41-7 win over the Purdue Boilermakers in Saturday's NCAA Division I football game at Ross-Ade Stadium in Lafayette. /

Marvin Harrison Jr.’s Heisman campaign officially began under the Columbus, Ohio gray skies last Saturday when the Ohio State football team defeated Penn State by a score of 20-12. In that game, MHJ caught 11 passes on 16 targets against the nation’s number-one-ranked defense. His 162 yards were the most that a Nittany Lion defense had given up to a single player all year. In fact, before this past Saturday, no receiver had even gone over 100 yards on the season against them.

Harrison Jr.’s domination of the Penn State secondary was a thing of beauty. Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz tried several different looks including man-press, double, and even zone coverages against the son of Indianapolis Colts Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison Sr. During the game, it became so evident that Penn State couldn’t stop him, that FOX Sports television play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson began to annoy everyone with his newly coined nickname Maserati Marv.

Just like a high-octane sports car in a drag race against a four-door family sedan, the Nittany Lions were left staring at the taillights of Maserati Marv as he blew past them in the second half for a game-defining touchdown.

Immediately following the game during the post-game interview with FOX sideline reporter Jenny Taft, Day gushed about how good Harrison Jr. played.

"“He’s a tremendous talent. Every defensive coordinator is going to say, ‘the first thing we are going to do is not let Marvin Harrison beat us.’ You stay up late trying to figure out ways to get him the ball….He is a weapon for us obviously and really our best player on offense. The standard he has set here, his worth ethic, and what he means to Ohio State – it’s about leaving a legacy behind. We are only half way through the season, so I am not going there yet, but he is on his way and I am proud of him.”"

Day may not have been willing to go there immediately following the game last week, but after some reflection and film-watching, he was more than willing to go there this past week during his press conference with the media following Wednesday’s practice.

"“I don’t know what he’s getting for attention. I don’t know because every minute we have we’re trying to grind, we’re trying to work. I just know what I’ve seen, if there’s a better player in the country — certainly a receiver in the country — I’d like to know who he is. There’s an argument out there, everybody wants to defend their guys, but I don’t sit there and usually brag on our players. But you see the guy, put in the work he has and produce the way that he has, he deserves to be in the mix for Heisman. I just believe that. I’m sure people would argue with that, but pretty hard to argue with what he’s put on the field so far this year.”"

So far this season, Harrison Jr. has accumulated 42 receptions for 766 yards and six touchdowns. He is averaging 18.2 yards per reception. There are eight receivers in college football so far this season with more receiving yards, five of whom have played in one or two more games than the Ohio State football team’s leading receiver has. Only one of those receivers plays for an undefeated team, however, in Washington wideout Rome Odunze.

Last week’s 162-yard performance against the Nittany Lions was the third time this season he logged 160 yards or more in one game, and the fifth time he has done so in his career, which set a new Ohio State football team receiving record. Previously, David Boston had gone for 160 yards or more in four games.

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If MHJ is going to win the Heisman trophy, he is going to have to overcome a pretty big stigma among Heisman voters. In Heisman trophy history there have only been four wide receivers who have won the award. The first was Johnny Rodgers from Nebraska in 1972. Notre Dame’s Tim Brown won the award in 1987. The most annoying man on television, Desmond Howard, won the award while playing for TTUN in 1991. The last was Alabama’s DeVonta Smith in 2020. For comparison, Smith finished that season with 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns.