COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State receiver Terry McLaurin has it too good and works too hard to wonder ‘what if.’
The redshirt sophomore is one of 12 4-star wide receivers at Ohio State, but he could just as easily be getting ready to enter Ohio Stadium on Saturday as a visitor. For the former Indianapolis Cathedral star, the impressive offense and uninspiring depth chart at Indiana could have been an attractive draw. Instead, he dreamed bigger and worked harder.
He found his way to Ohio State, but it didn’t come easy. During the summer between his junior and senior year of high school, McLaurin went to a one-day recruiting camp at Ohio State, a three-hour drive from his hometown. At the June 9 camp Ohio State coaches saw potential but also the need for refinement.
“He came to camp and wasn’t quite good enough in our opinion,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. “I said, ‘Here’s what you need to work on exactly.’ It was top end of routes, ball skills, hand-eye and catching a football in traffic.”
Ohio State asked him to return nearly two weeks later for its June 21 camp, and before McLaurin left, Meyer gave him some homework. In order to develop those aforementioned skills, the OSU head coach told McLaurin to catch 200 balls a day every day over those two weeks and then report back to Columbus to show his progress.
McLaurin enlisted the help of his high school coach Rick Streiff, who helped arrange for Cathedral quarterbacks Collin and Connor Barthel to deliver the passes. Every day for two weeks, McLaurin caught at least 200 passes from the brothers (Collin was McLaurin’s teammate at Cathedral, Connor played at Cathedral at the end of the last decade). Instead of chasing him away, Meyer’s challenge actually solidified the wide receiver’s interest in Ohio State.
“It actually got me more interested in Ohio State because I had the option of either looking somewhere else or taking the challenge and coming back a better player,” McLaurin said. “Coming here, that’s what I’ve learned the most. Even when you’re doing something good they’re going to give you something you can work on and come back better for the next practice.”
When McLaurin returned to Ohio State, he dazzled the coaches. Meyer said it was evident he’d put in the work every day between the two camps. McLaurin walked away with a scholarship offer that day, a decision Meyer called a “no-brainer.”
He still could have taken a different route, though. Ohio State’s class of 2014 ultimately included four wide receivers or hybrid-type players ranked ahead of him in the 247Sports Composite — Noah Brown, Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Curtis Samuel — and classes like that were always going to be the norm in Columbus under Meyer.
Instead of eyeing up the playing time available in Bloomington, though, McLaurin committed to the Buckeyes two days after getting his offer and never looked back.
After all, he didn’t catch 200 passes a day just to balk at the opportunity he worked so hard for.
“I think that’s Terry McLaurin in a nutshell,” Streiff said. “If you give him a challenge — and by that I mean something to work on — he’s a guy that will step up and do it.”
And it looks like McLaurin is getting warmed up just in time for the Hoosiers. In last week’s 58-0 win over Rutgers, McLaurin caught the first touchdown of his college career, and it was a beauty. With the Buckeyes (4-0, 1-0) up 9-0 in the second quarter, McLaurin outjumped Rutgers cornerback Blessuan Austin — who was also flagged for interference on the play — and came down with the ball.
He said that moment was a culmination of the two-plus years he’s spent at Ohio State thus far. Nobody who knows how hard he worked to get a spot on this team was surprised to learn that he’d spent that time working his way into the playing rotation.
“I know Ohio State is going to go out and recruit really, really good players but there’s going to be very, very few that will work harder than Terry and step up to a challenge more than Terry,” Streiff said. “He’ll do anything you ask, and he’s got nothing but greatness in front of him.”