Terry McLaurin indicated via social media late Monday he plans to return for his senior year at Ohio State, giving the Buckeyes a full-house reprise of its top three receivers from the 2017 season.
He joins fourth-year junior Parris Campbell and third-year sophomore K.J. Hill in opting to play for another year in an OSU offense that otherwise will have a new starting quarterback for the first time in four years, what with the departure of records-setting J.T. Barrett.
“Thank you Lord for another opportunity, #last1” McLaurin posted on his Instagram account Monday night.
Every member of Zone 6 will be back next season. Big things coming? #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/77bFAeEhSP
— BuckeyesNews (@BuckeyesNews) January 16, 2018
Monday was the deadline for players with college eligibility remaining to declare for the 2018 NFL draft. Barring a surprise revelation, there were only three Buckeyes who did so: Fourth-year junior defensive end Sam Hubbard (he’s already earned a degree) junior cornerback Denzel Ward and junior linebacker Jerome Baker.
Hill, the team’s leading receiver with 56 catches (for 549 yards, three touchdowns); Campbell, No.2 with 40 catches (584 yards, three TDs); and McLaurin, No.3 with 29 catches (436 yards, six TDs), all were believed to have contemplated an exit.
Though some critics might argue all three could use another season of development, the same was said about Noah Brown this time a year ago. Instead, he surprised many by declaring for the draft, despite a mere 32-catch season for 402 yards and seven touchdowns. He was picked in the seventh and final round by Dallas but made the Cowboys.
What McLaurin and Campbell, co-captains of the 2017 Buckeyes, and Hill, also, the primary punt returner, are returning to is an offense that in the spring will be in search of a new starting quarterback. Dwayne Haskins Jr. is considered the frontrunner, since he came off the bench to lead a comeback win at Michigan last season after Barrett suffered a knee injury. But Joe Burrow, the backup in 2016, and Tate Martell, who redshirted as a freshman last season, are expected to contend.
Joining McLaurin, Campbell and Hill on the receiver returnees list is junior Johnnie Dixon. He enjoyed his first full season in 2017, and though he made just 18 catches, a team-high eight were for touchdowns, and he, too, considered leaving.
Thus the wide receiver corps, which under the direction of coach Zach Smith calls itself “Zone6”, will be back intact, including sophomores Austin Mack (24 catches, 343 yards, two TDs) and Binjimen Victor (23, 349, seven TDs), and third-year sophomore walk-on C.J. Saunders (17, 221, one TD).