Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. opts out of Cotton Bowl, likely headed to 2024 NFL Draft

PISCATAWAY, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 4: Wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. #18 of the Ohio State Buckeyes warms up on the sidelines during a college football game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on November 4, 2023 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Marvin Harrison Jr. was a Heisman finalist in 2023. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Marvin Harrison Jr. appears headed to the NFL, and won’t play in the Cotton Bowl on the way there.

The Ohio State wide receiver will not play in Friday’s Cotton Bowl against Missouri, his program confirmed Friday. Harrison’s decision to play in the game had been publicly up in the air even after he traveled to Dallas with his teammates. But it became obvious that he wouldn’t participate in the game Tuesday when Ohio State held its open practice at AT&T Stadium and Harrison was on the sideline.

Harrison won the Biletnikoff Award as the best wide receiver in college football in 2023. He had 67 catches for 1,211 yards and 14 TDs across 12 games in 2023. That included five catches for 118 yards and a score against Michigan.

Harrison scored touchdowns in all but two of Ohio State’s games in 2023. Those outings came when he had just two catches for 18 yards to open the season against Indiana and three catches for 32 yards against Notre Dame. Harrison avoided serious injury against the Irish when he had his ankle rolled up on while blocking and was able to return with his ankle heavily taped.

The son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison broke out as a sophomore in 2022. He had 77 catches for 1,263 yards and 14 scores in 13 games a season ago and his late absence in the Peach Bowl due to injury was a significant reason why Ohio State couldn’t hold onto a 14-point second-half lead in a 42-41 College Football Playoff loss to Georgia.

Harrison is likely to be a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and could easily go in the top three selections. Yahoo Sports’ Nate Tice has projected him going second in his latest mock draft.

Here's the top 10 of Nate Tice's latest 2024 NFL mock draft. (Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)

Here’s the top 10 of Nate Tice’s latest 2024 NFL mock draft. (Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)

Harrison joins quarterbacks Caleb Williams and Drake Maye as potential top-five picks who have opted out of their teams’ bowl games. Williams, the 2022 Heisman winner, didn’t play in the Holiday Bowl for USC against Louisville and Maye opted out of North Carolina’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl against West Virginia.

When he’s selected in the first round of the draft in April, Harrison will be the fourth Ohio State wide receiver chosen in the first round over the last three drafts. Garrett Wilson (New York Jets) and Chris Olave (New Orleans Saints) were back-to-back first-round picks in 2022 and Jaxon Smith-Njigba was a first-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2023.

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