Terry McLaurin plans to run from practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to graduation at the Schottenstein Center in a cap and gown on Dec. 17 — if that’s what it takes to walk in the graduation ceremony.
McLaurin, a redshirt junior from Indianapolis, will complete a degree in communications this month.
“It means a lot,” McLaurin said. “That’s one thing that nobody can take away from me. This football game is going to end at some point in my career. To be a graduate of Ohio State and to do it in three and a half years is something I’m really proud of.”
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McLaurin expects to have a big crowd of family and friends at the graduation ceremony, just as he did at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 2 for the Big Ten Championship. He had the first touchdown in Ohio State’s 27-21 victory against Wisconsin, scoring on an 84-yard reception in the first quarter.
McLaurin admitted he has relived that catch a number of times since the game.
Ohio State vs. Southern California, 8:30 p.m., Dec. 29, ESPN, 1410
“I can’t lie; I’ve watched it a lot,” he said. “You dream about it. You run it through your head all the time, making a big play on a stage like that. For me to do that for our team and for it to be a big momentum shift in that game, I was really proud of that. Then it was icing on the cake to have so many friends and family there from my hometown. It was really cool.”
As the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2) continue preparation for the Cotton Bowl against No. 8 Southern California (11-2) on Dec. 29 in Arlington, Texas, they’re also preparing for the future. For McLaurin, that means taking his final exams before graduation but not necessarily looking beyond that and the trip to Texas. Ohio State leaves for the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 23.
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McLaurin, who has 26 catches for 342 yards and five touchdowns in his first season as a starter, is one of a number of players who could forgo their final season or two of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. Six Ohio State wide receivers have been drafted in the last three years alone.
“I haven’t really focused on it too much,” McLaurin said. “I’m just focused on graduating first. I have my final exams (this week). I had a couple finals (last week). It’s looking good for me, and I have this last game to focus on. Obviously, I’ll address it when the time comes, but I’m someone who takes things one step at a time. I’m not looking so far into my future that I’m neglecting my game.”
McLaurin talked to former teammate Jalin Marshall earlier this month. Marshall, a Middletown native, left Ohio State with two seasons of eligibility remaining and went undrafted. He signed with the New York Jets as a free agent and caught 14 passes in 2016. He’s currently on the Jets’ practice squad.
“He’s really grinding to make things work,” McLaurin said. “He gave me good advice. He just said to make the best decision for you. Only you know what’s best for you.”