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Terry McLaurin on his transition to the NFL, Advice to Ohio State seniors

After an impressive NFL debut, McLaurin gives credit to Ohio State.

NFL Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“It’s been just two weeks, but the Redskins have found their No. 1 wide receiver in rookie Terry McLaurin.” — Ethan Cadeaux, NBC Sports

“If Washington is ‘the rough,’ WR Terry McLaurin is ‘the diamond.’” —Zachary Neel, Redskins Wire

Terry McLaurin spent his college days preparing for the unexpected. In the NFL, it’s paid off. “ — Les Carpenter, The Washington Post

Google ‘Terry McLaurin’, and your screen will be filled with headline after headline gushing over the new Washington Redskins wide receiver. In his NFL debut against the Philadelphia Eagles, the rookie caught five passes for 125 yards— one of those a 69-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum, putting his team up 17-0.

“A dream come true,” McLaurin said of his first NFL game. “I’ve dreamed of playing at this level since I was about 7 years old. Even though we didn’t win, I can’t say enough about how cool it was to live my dream out.”

While Redskins fans are raving about—some even shocked by—their newest offensive weapon, the former Ohio State receiver is really just picking up where he left off. McLaurin finished his senior year as a Buckeye with 35 receptions for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns. Still, scoring in his first NFL game was something special.

“You never get used to it,” McLaurin said “It’s even more memorable because I put us up 17 points in the game and my number is 17. So, there was a lot of things that aligned that were pretty cool. Plus, I got to keep the ball. So that’s definitely up there as one of my favorite touchdowns.”

With much of its offense out due to injury, a history of problems in their receiving unit, and an 0-2 start to the season, Washington fans are jumping on the Terry McLaurin bandwagon as if it were a life raft.

In Washington’s 31-21 loss to Dallas on Sunday, McLaurin finished with a team-high five receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown, all while facing Dallas’ Byron Jones, one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Through his first two games, McLaurin has a total of 10 receptions, 187 yards, and two touchdowns.

It’s almost hard to believe he’s a rookie. Even Redskins running back Adrian Peterson described him as “poised” and “rarely out of his element.” McLaurin said he has Ohio State to thank for his preparedness.

“The speed of the game was a little fast my first day at practice, but I have to give credit to Ohio State,” McLaurin said. “I mean they really prepared me for this level— the study, the game, the practice habits, taking care of my body after a long day at practice.”

McLaurin said practicing with NFL type talent every day at Ohio State gave him an added advantage over other guys who were drafted.

“I’m used to competing at a very high level,” he said.

Speaking of NFL type talent, McLaurin is joined by his former quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was drafted No. 15 overall by the Redskins.

The Redskins—whether they saw this tweet or not—granted Haskins’ wish and the pair have been supporting each other ever since.

“Transitioning from college to the NFL is both of our dreams and doing it together is nice because you kind of have that buddy to help you through some of the tough times of being a rookie and adjusting to the new environment,” McLaurin said. “We’ve really been trying to help each other along our journey.”

As a duo in 2018, Haskins and McLaurin combined for 35 receptions for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns, including three times for 78 yards and two touchdowns in the Big Ten Championship win over Northwestern in McLaurin’s hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana.

While Haskins had an impressive preseason, the Redskins ultimately decided to go with Keenum—who they acquired from the Denver Broncos—as their starting quarterback. It hasn’t taken long, however, for McLaurin to become Keenum’s go-to guy.

While Haskins serves as a friend and source of familiarity for McLaurin, its Redskins tight end Vernon Davis who serves as a role model for the rookie.

“A guy like that who’s just done so many incredible things in the NFL, I really try to watch everything he does, learn from what he does, and see what it means to be a real pro,” he said.

Everyone has to have a role model or two— he also named former Indianapolis Colts receiver Marvin Harrison as a childhood hero—and McLaurin, himself, is known for being the “Vernon Davis”—if you will— for some younger athletes you may have heard of.

As a two-time team captain at Ohio State in 2017 and 2018, respectively, he served as a leader for an incredibly talented group of receivers—KJ Hill, Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor, and Chris Olave, to name a few. He set an example by consistently working on (and excelling at) his blocking, special teams play, route running, and other areas of the game that don’t necessarily make headlines.

Now, McLaurin is making a name for himself in the league, but that doesn’t mean his support for his former teammates has to end there.

“I still talk to pretty much all of them,” he said. “Whether they’re congratulating me on my games or I’m congratulating them on their games, and I’m always there if they need any advice, what to expect, somebody they can lean on— I can be that person for them.”

I asked him who he believes is going to be the next superstar on Ohio State’s receiving core now that he, Parris Campbell, and Johnnie Dixon are gone.

Victor and Olave,” he said. “KJ, too, he’s going to continue to put up great numbers. Even Garrett Wilson has some nice plays.”

In other words... all of them. But, that’s what he loves about Ohio State’s receiving core— the focus isn’t on who’s putting up the best numbers or who’s getting the most playing time.

“The nice thing about our receiving core, at least when I was there, is that it continues to revolve around unselfishness,” he said. “Everyone’s excited for everyone’s success and you just want to do the best you can to help the team. When it’s your time to make a play, you give it your all.”

This mentality has proven itself successful, as seen by Ohio State’s receiving unit so far this season. McLaurin said Ohio State is definitely handling business in regards to the playoff conversation.

However, it’s still too early to try to make the case that Ohio State is a playoff team, he said. Instead, just be excited about the defense’s confidence, the versatile offense, and Justin Fields.

This “focus on the present day” advice he gives fans is also the advice he gives the players who are in their last season wearing scarlet and gray. Hill, Mack, Victor, Damon Arnette, Jonathan Cooper, and Malik Harrison are just a few of the seniors on Ohio State’s roster this year.

“The NFL is great, but Ohio State is different,” McLaurin said. “Being an Ohio State Buckeye— that’s for life, man. I would just tell them to enjoy that, continue to be a great teammate, a great leader, and try to leave a legacy.”

Based on his NFL career thus far and the multitude of headlines singing his praises, I’d take McLaurin’s advice any day of the week.