COLUMBUS — Marvin Harrison Jr. met with the media Thursday in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in the lead-up to his trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. But Harrison’s Heisman candidacy wasn’t the focus of the press conference.
His future was.
A future that Harrison said he’s still undecided about.
“Coming into this year, I wanted to beat ‘The Team Up North’ and win a Big Ten championship, and obviously I did not do that this year,” Harrison said.
“I think there’s a great motive to come back if that’s what I decide to do. Because that’s something I definitely wanted to do in my Ohio State career and not having done that yet definitely opens the door for me to come back. But undecided. Really just taking it day-by-day at this time.”
Harrison said he doesn’t have a timetable for his decision, and the junior noted that there’s no rush to forgo his eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft.
The decorated receiver said that it’s possible he plays in the Cotton Bowl against No. 9 Missouri on Dec. 29. Regardless if he plays or not in the top-10 showdown, Harrison said he’s going to be in Dallas with the team.
Before the NIL era, superstars declaring for the NFL meant a pay day was on the way. In today’s college football, however, players — especially All-American talents like Harrison — are able to earn money before they make the jump to the league.
Harrison was asked if that financial consideration is a factor into his potential return.
“I don’t think it has any factor, really,” Harrison said. “If I was to come back, it would be for the reason I mentioned before. It’s just really beating ‘The Team Up North’ and winning a Big Ten championship.”
Harrison was candid about how difficult the last two weeks have been since the Buckeyes’ 30-24 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor, a regular season finale defeat that spoiled Ohio State’s undefeated season and effectively ousted the program from College Football Playoff contention.
Harrison is part of a 2021 Buckeyes recruiting class that has lost three straight games to Michigan. Before he arrived on campus, Ohio State had won eight straight games in the series and 17 of the last 19.
“Yeah, it’s tough. It’s been real tough, really,” Harrison said. “Because, like I said before, that’s kind of the one goal that you have. And I’m definitely blessed to be getting all the recognition that I am for these different awards and everything like that, but I think I would trade it all for a win against ‘The Team Up North,’ get to Indy and play in the Big Ten Championship.
“So it’s been tough dealing with it. But we stick together as a team. As a group, we support each other, lift our heads up, and we just got to move on with life. Figure out how we can get better for next year and what we can do to get that win.”
Harrison was then asked if he feels like his college career is incomplete without a win in The Game and without a Big Ten championship.
“I think as a freshman, you come to the Big Ten at a school like Ohio State, and you know where the Big Ten Championship is played,” he explained. “You want to play in Indy so bad. And now, I will say, when I got here, it’s like it’s gonna be a foregone conclusion that we’re gonna play in Indy every year. Obviously that’s yet to happen for me.
“So I think incomplete’s the way you could describe it. But it’s just something that if I do decide to move on and not come back, it’s something I’m gonna have to live with. It would be very hard for me. But yeah, I think definitely winning a Big Ten championship and beating ‘The Team Up North’ is something I wanted to do really as a college football player.”
Harrison still has a chance to accomplish those goals. But it would mean postponing an NFL career that’s widely expected to take off as soon as he wants it to.
Harrison is projected to become the highest-drafted wide receiver since Calvin Johnson Jr. went No. 2 overall in 2007.
He said the decision certainly weighs on him significantly.
“Maybe for the outside world, it may be the reason why I’m taking so long to make a decision. I know there’s still a lot of time left for me to decide. But I think definitely the main factor for me coming back would be to accomplish those two things,” Harrison said, once again referencing beating Michigan and winning a Big Ten championship.
“There’s still a lot of thought that has to be put into it to see what I want to decide to do.”