Top 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Marvin Harrison Jr. considering return to Ohio State

Harrison is considered the No. 1 prospect in the 2024 draft class by many draft analysts.
Harrison is considered the No. 1 prospect in the 2024 draft class by many draft analysts. / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

Nothing is set in stone at this stage, but Marvin Harrison Jr. officially scared a lot of Bears, Patriots, and Cardinals fans on Thursday. The Ohio State wide receiver told reporters that he is “undecided” about entering the 2024 NFL draft. He pointed to failing to beat Michigan thus far in his college career as a big motivating factor to return to school.

However, there could be a bit more to Harrison’s indecision. Christian Williams of Football Guys reported that Harrison and Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson have been offered NIL deals that would rival first-round draft pick compensation. Reports of NIL deal are flimsy at best, but that very notion would be a wild one.

Harrison is projected to be the first non-quarterback taken in the 2024 draft, appearing as early in mock drafts as No. 2 overall. He is being compared to A.J. Green, Julio Jones, and Ja’Marr Chase in terms of where he stands as a wide receiver prospect historically. He posted back-to-back 1,200-receiving-yard, 14-touchdown seasons. Harrison is also a finalist for the 2023 Heisman Trophy, which will be awarded on Saturday night. He is not expected to win, but he could become just the fourth receiver to finish in the top three of the voting since 2000.

If he were to return to school, that would be a colossal change to the outlook for the 2024 NFL draft. We have seen prospects who project as top 20 selections decide to head back to school. As recently as last year, Florida State edge rusher Jared Verse and Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashanu opted for another year in college rather than heading to the NFL as highly-touted draft prospects.

However, Harrison would be in a category of his own. For a point of reference, if Harrison is drafted in the top 3 come April, he will receive a signing bonus of at least $22.8 million. If that type of money is suddenly on the table in NIL deals, that would represent a massive shakeup to the draft landscape. Not every player would return, but if the money is even, there are going to be plenty of players that would opt for another year in school.

From a positional perspective, this will still be a loaded draft class for wide receivers, even if Harrison is not in the mix. LSU’s Malik Nabers, Washington’s Rome Odunze and Florida State’s Keon Coleman all project as top 25 selections with several more prospects who could find their way into the first round.

We are a long way from the reality of Harrison returning to school. Prospects say things like this all the time, often heading to the NFL. However, there is no question that NIL has changed the game and this will be one of the biggest tests of how much power collectives and deep-pocketed boosters can wield over an elite prospect’s decision to return to school.