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Scarlet Sunrise: C.J. Stroud advises teams to take Marvin Harrison Jr. as WR1 — 'Don't be dumb'

IMG_7408by:Andy Backstrom04/17/24


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C.J. Stroud advises teams to take Marvin Harrison Jr. as WR1 — ‘Don’t be dumb’

This always happens.

During the marathon coverage leading up to the draft, narratives unnecessarily twist and turn. Former Ohio State, and current Houston Texans, quarterback C.J. Stroud knows that better than most. At one point the betting favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Stroud’s stock appeared to take a hit because of his rumored performance on the S2 Cognition test.

According to the test’s site, the S2 Cognition “is the only sports evaluation that scientifically measures an athlete’s game-speed cognitive abilities down to a millisecond level — and provides tailored, on-field drills designed by top-level coaches to measurably improve performance.”

But, according to a February report from The Athletic’s Zak Keefer — who spoke to league executives for a retrospective story — the S2 flagged Stroud’s test result, which was deemed “unreliable” to teams.

It ultimately didn’t matter. Stroud went No. 2 overall to the Houston Texans, a franchise he helped transform from worst to first in the AFC South while winning AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and becoming the youngest quarterback in league history to win a playoff game.

A year after Stroud went through a headache-inducing draft process, his former teammate — and top receiving target at Ohio State — Marvin Harrison Jr. is dealing with similar pre-draft shenanigans.

After being touted as the best wideout in this year’s draft class throughout the 2023 season, during which Harrison won the Biletnikoff Award and emerged as a Heisman Trophy finalist, his status as WR1 is suddenly in question.

With Harrison not participating in NFL Combine and Pro Day testing, the skill sets of his biggest competition — LSU’s Malik Nabers and Washington’s Rome Odunze — have been on full display.

That’s made pundits think. Well, it’s made them think too hard, if you ask Stroud.

“Put on the tape,” Stroud said before chuckling, when asked during a Texans offseason press conference why Harrison should be the first wideout off the board this year. “He’s done it from really his true freshman year to now.

“I think I read something like, ‘He’s NFL ready, but other guys have more potential.’ That makes no sense. Like, what? If you’re ‘NFL ready,’ how is that not potential? You want longevity, you want somebody who has been doing it. For him, that’s what he sleeps, eats and breathes. He’s a worldly talent, but his work ethic and how he gravitates that room.”

Harrison’s individual accomplishments at Ohio State are prolific. He’s one of five Buckeyes players all-time to receive unanimous first-team All-American honors in two separate seasons. Harrison became the first Ohio State player ever to stack 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He also surpassed David Boston for the most career 100-yard receiving games (15) in program history.

Harrison made an even greater impact on the Buckeyes in 2023 than he did in 2022, despite being double teamed or bracketed most of the year.

Accounting for close to a quarter of Ohio State’s total offense and more than a quarter of its touchdowns during the regular season season, he brought in 67 passes for 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns, not to mention his first career rushing touchdown against Michigan State in Week 11.

But his budding leadership his sophomore year, which only continued this past season, is another reason why Harrison fits the mold of what the top receiver in the draft should look like.

“I challenged him last year when Jaxon [Smith-Njigba] went down,” Stroud said. “He had to take over as leader, and he did that. He’s not really vocal, but he became vocal, and you can see his personality start to come out as he started to play more.

“For me, I think I would love to play with him again. I probably won’t get that opportunity for a while, but I’m super, super proud of him. Whoever’s up there, man, be smart. Don’t be dumb. Don’t think too hard.”

Ohio State still searching for best offensive line combination after spring season

The Buckeyes are further along on the offensive line now than they were a year ago at this point, but they’re still not in a place where they have their “best five” figured out.

The right guard competition headlines a trenches conversation that will carry into training camp.

For what we learned from the spring game, the importance of depth and more, head on over here.

Four freshmen who flashed with impressive spring-game performance

The Ohio State veterans didn’t get to show off in the Horseshoe as much as many of them probably were itching to. Playing to thud and playing limited snaps, the expected starters got minimal work during Saturday’s spring game.

Ohio State’s backups, on the other hand, got opportunities in the spotlight. And several, including a handful of true freshmen, stepped up.

Lettermen Row is highlighting four first-year players, in particular, who delivered in the exhibition.

Check it out here.

Ohio State transfer tracker: The spring portal window

The spring transfer window opened on Tuesday, and it will be open until April 30. Lettermen Row is tracking all Ohio State-related activity.

Already, two Buckeyes players have entered the portal.

Find out who and stay up to date here.

Counting Down

Buckeyes vs. Akron: 137 days
Buckeyes vs. Michigan: 228 days

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