Syracuse Football Top 25 Players of All-Time: No. 9 Marvin Harrison

Syracuse football, Marvin Harrison (Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart/ALLSPORT)
Syracuse football, Marvin Harrison (Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart/ALLSPORT) /

Syracuse Football has had a long history of success. We look back at some of the best players to play at Syracuse University. Up next, No. 9: Marvin Harrison.

Syracuse Football has had a heck of a lot of great players in its history. You know we’re getting to the best of the best on this list of the Top 25 Syracuse Football Players of All-Time when you start coming up on names you’ve heard of. Names who are in the Pro Hall of Fame due to to their superstar play. Marvin Harrison, who is next on our list, fit that bill to a tee. Though most will remember him for his time with the Indianapolis Colts, most don’t really know about how dominant he was at Syracuse first.

Harrison was a speedy wideout who could catch just about any ball that came his way. Whether it was over his head, along the sideline, over the middle in coverage, he would make the play. He was a quarterback’s best friend and could be relied on to not only make a big play, but also constantly move the chains and get the team down the field. In every sense of the word, he was a superstar.

After redshirting his freshman year on campus, Harrison quickly joined the starting rotation in 1993, his sophomore year, replacing star wide receiver Qadry Ismail, also on this list, who made the jump to the NFL. Harrison quickly made a name for himself with 41 receptions for 813 yards (3rd overall in Big East), and seven touchdowns (2nd overall in Big East), according to

His chemistry with quarterback Marvin Graves was outstanding, and having fellow wideout Shelby Hill playing on the outside created a duo that was hard to match anywhere in the country. Their combination of speed and catching ability made Syracuse football a tough out week-in and week-out.

More from All-Time Lists

In his junior season, Harrison took things up a notch. Not only did he improve his numbers catching the ball, but he also returned the ball 18 times on punt returns to the tune of 165 yards (9.2 yards per return (2nd in Big East). In terms of catching the ball, he had 36 receptions for 761 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran the ball five times for 68 yards and one touchdown. That is good for an average of 13.6 yards per carry! Crazily enough, Harrison also registered a defensive interception as well! Talk about a jack of all trades!

In his final season in Orange in 1995, another Syracuse legend would enter the scene who would also leave his mark on Syracuse forever: star quarterback Donavan McNabb (also later on this list). A redshirt freshman, McNabb quickly made his mark by making an immediate connection with Harrison to the tune of 56 receptions for 1,131 yards (20.2-yard avg. – 1st in the Big East) and eight touchdowns.

His 1,131 yards receiving ranked first in the Big East Conference that year, and would also remain first all-time at Syracuse until Amba Etta-Tawo and Steve Ishmael eclipsed the mark in 2016 and 2017, according to Harrison was McNabb’s go-to-guy on offense and looked for him early and often because he had blazing speed and could be relied on in the clutch.

In that senior season, Harrison also had 22 punt returns for 369 yards and two touchdowns, good for an incredible 16.8 yards per punt return, which ranked first in the Big East as well! He would also rush the ball an additional five times for 69 yards, good for 13.8 yards per carry!

Syracuse finished the 1995 season with a 9-3 record, was ranked in the Top 25, and routed Clemson 41-0 in the 1996 Gator Bowl, according to In that game, Harrison had seven receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns, according to In other words, this guy was the real deal and NFL scouts knew it.

Harrison finished his Syracuse Football career with 135 receptions for 2,728 yards (20.2-yard avg.) and 20 receiving touchdowns. His 2,728 career receiving yards ranked first in school history until Steve Ishmael broke the record in 2017 with 2,891 yards. Harrison’s 20 career receiving touchdowns are second in school history only to Rob Moore who had 22 in his Orange career, which ended in 1989. In addition, he would also be named a First Team All-American and Big East Special Teams Player of the Year in 1995, and be named an All-Big East selection three times in his Orange career, according to

Harrison could really do it all, and as such he was an easy selection by the Indianapolis Colts with the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft. Once in Indy, Harrison made an instant connection with quarterback Peyton Manning, and together (along with fellow wideout Reggie Wayne) created one of the best passing offenses the NFL has ever seen or might ever see again.

Former Syracuse Football Wide Receiver Marvin Harrison (#88)
INDIANAPOLIS – OCTOBER 17: Peyton Manning #18 and Marvin Harrison #88 of the Indianapolis Colts talk on the bench after a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams during the NFL game at the RCA Dome on October 17, 2005 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is the touchdown reception 86 for the pair, an NFL record. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

In 11 years together in Indianapolis, Manning and Harrison became the best quarterback-receiver tandem in NFL history. Manning completed 953 receptions and 112 touchdown passes in their time together, according to Both of those are NFL records that may never be broken again. They would also win a Super Bowl ring together in 2006, cementing each of their legacies.

After 13 seasons in the NFL, Harrison would retire with 14,580 yards, which ranks 9th all-time in NFL history, had 1,102 receptions, good for 5th all-time, and 128 touchdowns, currently good for 5th all-time. He would be selected to eight Pro Bowls, be named an All-Pro three times, and had eight consecutive 1,000+ yard receiving seasons from 1999-2006.

During that amazing stretch, Harrison twice would lead the league in receiving yards: 1,663 yards in 1999 and 1,722 yards in 2002. He would also lead the league in receptions twice as well: 102 receptions in 2000 and 143 receptions in his amazing 2002 season.

He would be selected to the Syracuse Football All-Century team in 1999 and is on the ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2021. Harrison also later earned the ultimate honor of being inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, according to

SU Football: Top 10 players that should have jerseys retired. dark. Next

There is no mistaking Marvin Harrison is among the best to ever play in an Orange uniform. His career achievements in the NFL also show he is among the best wide receivers of all-time as well. Though one more Orange wideout is still to come, make no mistake, Harrison is and always will be one of the most revered Syracuse Football players ever.