COLUMBUS — Inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center last week, the talk was all about Terry McLaurin’s blocking ability.
Ohio State receiver Terry McLaurin, right, catches a pass as Indiana defensive back Andre Brown defends.
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On Saturday in Ohio Stadium, the wide receiver showed off his hands.
McLaurin, an Indianapolis native, hauled in four receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns against his home state school in Ohio State’s 49-26 victory over Indiana. It’s the second time this season McLaurin’s caught two touchdown passes in a game and his six touchdown catches match a season career high.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
McLaurin has evolved from undersized high school freshman — we’re talking 120 pounds — to four-star recruit as Indiana’s Mr. Football to deliverer of hard knocks. Now 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, McLaurin received endless praise for the block he administered on K.J. Hill’s game-winning touchdown at Penn State. He took out three Penn State defenders as Hill high stepped into the end zone in Ohio State’s unlikely rally.
Hill, Dwayne Haskins, and Binjimen Victor were lauded most frequently until Meyer pointed out McLaurin’s contributions, which aren’t included in the game’s final box score. The selfless play on the field transitions away from it.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes for the team,” said McLaurin, who pointed out that he knocked down a defensive end multiple times against the Hoosiers. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to the air, ground, and special teams to get the win.”
VIDEO: Terry McLaurin
The fifth-year senior already holds a communications degree. McLaurin, a two-time captain, is one of the most respected players in the locker room and was named OSU’s outstanding student-athlete at the 2017 Cotton Bowl. But a breakout season in which McLaurin started all 14 games and caught 29 passes for 436 yards and six touchdowns didn’t do much to shed his anonymity outside the program.
The fact is he’s one of Ohio State’s most reliable weapons. An 84-yard reception sparked Ohio State’s win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. Entering the season, his eight touchdown catches were tied for the most on the team. McLaurin graded out a champion in nine games last season and four of the first five games this year, including twice being the offensive player of the game.
“What’s the culture? What’s the expectation-level of the play here? He’s the epitome,” Meyer said. “I use the word ‘Evan Spencer’ around here. I’ve been told I get carried away at times — I do. I get carried away with guys like Terry McLaurin, guys who just go so hard.”
Spencer, a former Ohio State wide receiver who was a member of the 2014 national championship team, is a favorite of Meyer’s and someone the coach uses as an example of a team-first player.
Both of McLaurin’s touchdowns Saturday were separating scores. In the second quarter, he helped put the Buckeyes up 28-17 and his fourth-quarter touchdown effectively ended the game, pushing Ohio State in front 42-26.
McLaurin dodged a question that was asked in jest about his fears of being typecast a blocking receiver, thus needing to score two touchdowns.
“I don’t really care a whole lot about a touchdown,” he said. “To be honest, I was more happy for Bin when he scored. He’s growing up before our eyes. I want to make the plays when they come to me. Whatever opportunities I get, I want to make the plays. And I feel like I’m doing a better job of doing that than I did last year.”
Thirteen receptions, 277 yards, six touchdowns, and a handful of blocks that would make Anthony Munoz crow is a good start.
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