Terry McLaurin Proud to Be A Part of Ohio State’s “Incredible” Growth at Wide Receiver

By Dan Hope on June 20, 2024 at 8:35 am
Terry McLaurin
Brad Mills – USA TODAY Sports

Terry McLaurin can’t help but smile when he thinks about Ohio State’s recent success at wide receiver.

Ohio State wasn’t viewed as the wide receiver factory it is now during McLaurin’s five years at Ohio State, but he finished his career on a high note in 2018, catching 35 passes for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns, which made him a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft. He was one of four receivers on that year’s team that had at least 669 receiving yards along with Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill and Johnnie Dixon, with Campbell, Dixon and McLaurin all serving as captains.

Since then, Ohio State has produced one elite receiver after one another. Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison Jr. all established themselves among OSU’s all-time great receivers and became first-round NFL draft picks. Emeka Egbuka might not be far behind them entering his senior year at Ohio State, while hopes are already high for Jeremiah Smith, Carnell Tate and Brandon Inniss to become the unit’s next superstars.

McLaurin, who has established himself among the NFL’s top receivers with 5,283 receiving yards in his first five seasons with the Washington Commanders, is proud to have played a part in Ohio State becoming known for producing elite wide receivers.

“It's incredible, man,” McLaurin told Eleven Warriors this week. “I remember what it was like when I first got there, and I don't think the receivers were really respected like they are now. And I think a lot of guys really built that from Mike Thomas, Evan Spencer, Devin Smith when I was here. And then my class kind of started taking it over after that, with Paris and Johnnie and Curtis (Samuel) and stuff like that, Noah (Brown). So there's so many guys that have made this receiver group what it is, but to see kind of how the change happened when Chris came in, and then you got Garrett, and now you got Marvin Harrison, you got Jaxon, I think Emeka has a great chance, and you got Jeremiah and all the other great receivers. It's just like, you can't name them all, you know?”

McLaurin says Brian Hartline and the rest of Ohio State’s coaching staff have played a big part in the NFL success of OSU’s recent receivers because of how they are developed when they are Buckeyes.

“I think the cool thing about being a receiver here at Ohio State is you're gonna be prepared for the next level. No matter if you're drafted first round or undrafted, you're gonna know how to get open, you're gonna know how to run routes, you're gonna know how to treat your body like a pro and to perform like a pro,” McLaurin said. “So Coach Hartline does a great job of training these guys, and you throw the football a lot, so you're gonna get opportunities.”

Ohio State also instilled a competitive mindset in McLaurin that he has taken with him to the next level, enabling him to exceed expectations as a third-round pick.

“When you come to Ohio State, you're gonna play against the best players, and you're gonna be in the best competition rooms in your position group. So it really forces you to rise to the occasion each and every day when you step out on the practice field,” McLaurin said. “And once you get used to being in an environment where you're a competitor, you're always trying to find the edge to win. I think you take that kind of characteristic, you take that throughout your life. 

“So even when I'm done playing football and I start to get into business or wherever life takes me next, I know I'm gonna take that same mentality that when you put your mind to something and you try to look at getting better, not just what you do good, but find the little ways you can get better, your weaknesses and making them strengths, I think that's when you make the biggest growth as a person and a player.”

While McLaurin’s teammates in Washington sometimes debate with him about which college is “Wide Receiver U,” McLaurin is firmly in the camp that believes Ohio State has earned that designation.

“When I first got here, it wasn't looked at as that. And honestly, not because of the history, because you got the great history of receivers that played here, but during that time period when I first got here, the receivers weren't necessarily seen as a strong suit of the team,” McLaurin said. “But looking at how I developed and the rest of our guys in my last year in 2018, receivers were seen as one of the stronger groups, but not just that, they were seen as leaders, they were seen as guys you could look to to know how to do things right when you come in this program, how to train, how to practice, how to play.

“And so to be a part of the nucleus of that, I take extreme pride in that. And anybody wanna talk to me, I got LSU teammates, I got Alabama teammates, I got USC teammates, anybody wanna talk to me about who Wide Receiver U is, they know they're not gonna win that conversation with me because it's always gonna be the Buckeyes.”

“You're gonna be prepared for the next level. No matter if you're drafted first round or undrafted, you're gonna know how to get open, you're gonna know how to run routes, you're gonna know how to treat your body like a pro and to perform like a pro.”– Terry McLaurin on being an Ohio State receiver

McLaurin was back in Columbus on Monday to participate in Chris Fields’ Fairway For Hope Golf Outing, which benefitted The Field House Cancer Foundation and the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer in honor of Fields’ older brother James, who died in June 2023 after battling brain cancer for more than nine years. McLaurin said it was important for him to attend the event because of his friendship with Fields, who played wide receiver at Ohio State from 2009-13 and has been a mentor to McLaurin since he was at OSU.

“Chris has been very instrumental in my life since I met him back when I was at Ohio State,” McLaurin said. “He really just always would pour into me as much as he could, both to be ready for on the field, but off the field. And since me leaving Ohio State, him and I have become really good friends. And he's taught me some things about business, just about life, and he's somebody that I really respect the way he lives his life and the way he treats people. And so to be able to be back here in Columbus, where I feel like a second home to support his foundation for his brother who passed away, it's an unbelievable honor for me to be here.”

While McLaurin now lives in Virginia, he still feels the power of the Buckeye brotherhood and the Ohio State fanbase everywhere he goes.

“It's crazy, man. Like Buckeye Nation, that's real,” McLaurin said. “I don't think you can really appreciate until you leave this place how far and wide Buckeye Nation stretches. I'm all the way in Virginia now, and I got people around the corner who see me more as a Buckeye than they do as a Commander, which is great because that just speaks to the brand that Ohio State is. So anytime you get to come back and feel that love, feel the support of Buckeye Nation, I always look forward to it.”

“Anybody wanna talk to me about who Wide Receiver U is, they know they're not gonna win that conversation with me because it's always gonna be the Buckeyes.”– Terry McLaurin on Ohio State being Wide Receiver U

McLaurin said he hopes to return to Columbus for Ohio State’s season opener against Akron before the Commanders begin their 2024 season.

That said, McLaurin’s primary focus is on preparing for his sixth NFL season, in which he’ll be catching passes from a new quarterback after the Commanders drafted 2023 Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. While McLaurin has already had a multitude of different quarterbacks during his five years in Washington, he’s excited for the future with Daniels leading the way.

“Working with Jayden so far in OTAs has been great,” McLaurin said. “I think he has an unbelievable feel for the game. He's very mature just to be a rookie. He can make all the throws. He has a great deep ball that he can just drop right in the bucket. And his anticipation has been unbelievable since we got into camp.

“So his personality is going to jell well with our team. Honestly, he's a natural-born leader and he's fun to play with, man. He has a great personality. He's very charismatic.”

View 27 Comments