Marvin Harrison, Jr. will be at the Cotton Bowl when Ohio State and Missouri take the field December 29th, but he is still undecided on whether or not he will play in the game.
That indecision implies what Harrison went on to confirm to reporters on Thursday — he is still undecided on whether or not he is returning for his senior season at Ohio State.
The expectation all season long has been that this would be Harrison’s last year with the Buckeyes. The true junior is being projected to be a top five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, which is usually way too much for anybody to walk away from.
“Still undecided,” Harrison told reporters during a press conference on Thursday to discuss being a Heisman Trophy finalist. “You guys know 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, so I think there’s great motive to come back if that’s what I decide to do. That’s something I definitely want to do in my Ohio State career and not having done that yet, it definitely opens the door for me to come back. But undecided, really just taking it day by day at this at this time.”
Harrison admitted that if he does choose to forego his final year of eligibility, he’s going to have to live with the fact that he never beat Michigan and he never won a Big Ten Championship.
Which would also leave him feeling “incomplete.”
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I think as a freshman, you come to the Big Ten, a school like Ohio State where the Big Ten championship is played and you want to play in Indy so bad. I will say, when I got here, it was like it’s gonna be a foregone conclusion that we’re gonna play in Indy every year, and obviously that has yet to happen for me.
“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, I’m gonna have to live with. It would be very hard for me. But yeah, I think definitely winning a Big Ten championship, beating the team up north is something I wanted to do really bad as a college football player.”
While Harrison is definitely speaking from the heart, the head usually wins out in these kinds of decisions. But Harrison is in a different position than many. With Name, Image, and Likeness alive and well in college sports, there is plenty of money available with which to try and keep players from leaving for the NFL.
According to Marvin Harrison, however, money won’t have anything to do with his decision to stay or go.
“I don’t think it has any factor really,” he said. “If I was to come back it would be for the reasons I mentioned before, just really beating the team up north and winning the Big Ten championship. So financial factor is definitely not a factor for me moving forward, I would say.”
So now the waiting game begins. The head or the heart? On the one hand he can begin the next chapter of his dream. But if he does, he’d be taking a nightmare with him.
“I’m definitely blessed to be getting all the recognition that I am for these different awards and things like that, but I think I would trade it all for a win against the team up north and to get to Indy and play for a Big Ten Championship,” he said.
Harrison isn’t in a hurry to make a decision, and does not have a decision date in mind. He did say that he will let his coaches know before he lets the media know.
Ultimately, he is still very likely to leave for the NFL after this season, but it is clear that this isn’t the easy decision that it would be for most players. The losses to Michigan and the lack of a Big Ten title are on his mind every step of the way.
“Yeah, I think it weighs a lot,” he admitted. “I mean, for the outside world, maybe the reason why I’m taking so long to make a decision, I know there’s a lot of time left for me to decide, but I think that’s definitely the main factor for me coming back would be to accomplish those two things. And there’s still a lot of thought that has to be put into it to see what I want to decide to do.”