Growing up the son of a Pro Football Hall of Famer with the same name, Ohio State freshman wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. has always had big shoes to fill on the football field.
But rather than shy away from it, he’s embraced everything that comes with being Marvin Harrison’s son – and that’s paid off, as he looks to be the next great wide receiver to play for the Buckeyes.
“(He’s) had a big impact,” Harrison of his father during his media availability on Wednesday evening. “You learn a lot of the little details that a normal person wouldn’t really notice. Having him as a dad and just a mentor for me is big. He obviously played the position, so he knows all the skills and tricks and things like that, but also working on your mentality pre-snap and during the play.
“I’ve just gotten used to (the comparisons). It’s happened all my life. It’s not going to go anywhere, so I just have to live with it. But every time you make a play, they’re going to mention him.”
That’s exactly what happened during Saturday’s 54-7 win at Indiana when the 6-foot-3 and 205-pound Harrison, who was considered the 14th-best wide receiver and No. 97 prospect overall in the class of 2021, got the first extended playing time of his college career.
He played 28 offensive snaps and caught two passes for 34 yards, including a 20-yard reception where he used a devastating spin move to evade two defenders and pick up an extra eight yards on the play.
“You have to take advantage of all of your opportunities here,” Harrison said. “There are so many great guys and great players, but only one ball to go around, so whenever the ball comes to you, you have to take advantage of the opportunity.
“It was a crazy move, though. They didn’t know I could do that, so I’m glad I could showcase that.”
Harrison also made a tackle on a botched punt in the end zone for a safety earlier in the game, which was played in the same state where his father starred with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.
“It was definitely a big confidence booster,” Harrison said. “We take pride on making an impact on special teams, especially the young guys, so I’m glad I was able to do that. You look at the guys who came before you, and they all did it, so you know it’s all part of the process.”
With scholarship offers from big-time programs all over the country, Harrison could have easily gone elsewhere in search of early playing time. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be developed by wide receivers coach Brian Hartline, though.
He’s also benefitted from playing under the likes of senior Chris Olave and junior Garrett Wilson, who are widely viewed as two of the nation's best wideouts.
“It’s part of the game,” Harrison said of waiting his turn to start. “I’m just trying to get better each and every day. If the playing time comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. As long as I get better, I'll be happy.
"My focus each and every day is just to come into practice and get better, learning from guys like Garrett and Chris. I’m grateful to have them. They’ve definitely helped a lot in my progression."
With both Olave and Wilson expected to be early round draft picks in the spring, Harrison should step into a starting role next fall. Of course, he'll have big shoes to fill – but that’s nothing new.
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