Marvin Harrison, Jr

Replacing Marvin Harrison, Jr.: Next Superman Up

This is the seventh in a series looking at how the Buckeyes will be replacing their departed starters in 2024. Up next is a look at the receiver position vacated by the early departure of two-time All-American Marvin Harrison, Jr.

Marvin Harrison, Jr. leaves Ohio State as the most-decorated wide receiver in school history. In 2023, he became the second Buckeye to ever win the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top pass catcher. He is the only two-time All-American Ohio State has ever had at receiver — and he was a unanimous selection both times.

Harrison caught 67 passes for 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns last year as a junior in 12 games. As a sophomore, he posted 77 catches for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was the Big Ten’s receiver of the year both years and won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award as the conference’s player of the year in 2023.

Harrison ranks sixth in school history in receptions (155), sixth in receiving yards (2,613), and third in touchdown receptions (31).

As a high school recruit, ESPN ranked 12 receivers ahead of Harrison. Rivals ranked 14 receivers ahead of him. And 247Sports ranked 20 receivers ahead of him.

The Candidates

Let’s first set the groundwork here that there is no “replacing Marvin Harrison, Jr.” The Buckeyes can merely put somebody new at his position and divvy up his snaps.

There is a certain level of difficulty and “why even bother” when it comes to discussing the replacement of Harrison’s actual position and role because even though he was the prototypical X (split end) receiver, he moved all over the place and found himself more and more working out of the slot. So for the purposes of this exercise, let’s operate with the caveats of understanding that every receiver has to learn every receiving position so that they can flow from one to the other as receivers coach Brian Hartline sees fit, and that Marvin Harrison was in fact an X receiver with some other special skills.

Overall, this is not the deepest room in Hartline’s tenure. The Buckeyes have lost four receivers from last year’s team and replaced them with two incoming freshmen. They were, however, able to keep Emeka Egbuka from leaving, which could mean he’s next in line to replace Harrison. He already has experience playing everywhere, so that won’t be a problem. Egbuka is in line to become the second Ohio State receiver ever with two 1,000-yard seasons.

Rising sophomore Carnell Tate looked the part of an Ohio State X receiver last year as a true freshman, and there’s no reason to think the Buckeyes wouldn’t be in good hands if it was him there this season. Third-year sophomore Kojo Antwi hasn’t caught a pass yet in his first two years on campus, which puts him in a club with former Buckeyes like Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell.

The Buckeyes have also added freshman Jeremiah Smith, who was the top player in the 2024 class according to multiple services. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Smith has the size that many like in an X, but he also has things coaches like at the other two receiver positions as well.

Spring Outlook

One of the big questions heading into spring ball is what Brian Hartline is going to do with Emeka Egbuka. Egbuka has been in the slot for the past two seasons, but also has experience playing outside because he’s been around forever and also because of the motions. Does Egbuka move outside — even though he will definitely move back inside at times? Or does Hartline just keep him inside?

Carnell Tate will almost certainly be in the Ohio State starting lineup somewhere. The Buckeyes need to replace two departed starting receivers. If Tate is one, then another still need to be found. But exactly where Tate ends up is still a question mark.

All eyes will be on Jeremiah Smith this spring since it will be everyone’s first real look at him on the football field in Columbus. He is going to have a baptism from some of the best cornerbacks in the country. It will be interesting to get cornerback Denzel Burke’s assessment of Smith at some point because Burke doesn’t sugarcoat his thoughts on much.

Best Bet

The absolute best bet here is that everyone is going to play everywhere, so to say that a certain player is going to lock down a certain position is too much of a cookie cutter statement, and these aren’t cookies.

When Brian Hartline is asked this spring who is the X and who is Z and who is the slot, don’t be surprised if the answer is “I have no idea.” Receiver has moved to positionless football at this point. Players will “start” at certain positions but they won’t necessarily stay there.

Replacing a 1,000-yard receiver who had experience playing inside and outside while also being a reliable and consistent target is not easy to do. But that’s the situation the Buckeyes will also be in next year after Emeka Egbuka leaves.

Maybe it’s best to start thinking of the receiver position as First Target, Second Target, and so on. If we do that, then you replace Marvin Harrison, Jr. with Egbuka. If we’re talking about finding a new X receiver on opening day, then that’s either Egbuka or Carnell Tate. Unless it’s Jeremiah Smith.

There are other names as well, as mentioned in the previous entry on replacing Julian Fleming. The best three receivers will be in the lineup, regardless of body type or experience. That is the actual best bet.


Replacing Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg

Replacing Nose Tackle Mike Hall

Replacing Receiver Julian Fleming

Replacing Linebacker Steele Chambers

Replacing Safety Josh Proctor

Replacing Quarterback Kyle McCord

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