COLUMBUS — Ohio State star wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba was a favorite for the Biletnikoff Award — given annually to the best receiver in college football — before the start of the season. Smith-Njigba suffered an injury in the opener, though, and he’s played in just three games of the 2022 campaign.
Instead, sophomore Marvin Harrison Jr. has put together the star-studded season everyone was expecting from Smith-Njigba. And Monday morning, Harrison was recognized as a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff.
Whereas Smith-Njigba spent 88.6% of his snaps in the slot last season, Harrison has played 86.4% of his snaps this season out wide, according to Pro Football Focus. They’re two different kind of receivers. Harrison uses every bit of his 6-foot-4 frame to make jaw-dropping catches. His catch radius might be bigger than anyone else’s in the sport.
Harrison went over 1,000 yards receiving this past weekend at Maryland, where he recorded five catches for 68 yards. Harrison has posted five 100-yard receiving games this season, most notably racking up a season-high 185 yards in Ohio State’s 44-31 win over then-No. 13 Penn State.
To say that he’s been key for the Buckeyes on third down would be an understatement. Of his 15 receptions on third down this season, 14 have gone for first downs, not to mention that his three third down touchdowns are tied for ninth most nationally.
Harrison is the only receiver in the FBS with more than 90 targets and zero drops. What’s more, his contested catch percentage (61.5%, or 16-of-26) is ninth in the country among receivers with at least 75 targets, per PFF.
Harrison’s 1,037 receiving yards are eighth nationally, and his 11 receiving touchdowns are tied for third.
Here’s the complete list of this year’s Biletnikoff semifinalists:
Jordan Addison, USC
Brock Bowers, Georgia
Nathaniel Dell, Houston
Josh Downs, North Carolina
Zay Flowers, Boston College
Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State
Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State
Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
Quentin Johnston, TCU
Charlie Jones, Purdue
Rashee Rice, SMU
Keylon Stokes, Tulsa