Terry McLaurin and fellow receiver Parris Campbell jumped into Ohio State’s offseason conditioning routine this week, just as they had the past several years.
It could have been different for both.
Each wrestled with leaving for the NFL despite having eligibility remaining, as did defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones and running back Mike Weber, among others. Instead, they opted to return, which meant that again, for the next several weeks, they will be going through the grind laid out by football performance coordinator Mickey Marotti, such as the workout Friday morning.
It’s worth it, Campbell said, to take one more shot at one of his ultimate goals.
“No. 1 for me, obviously, I want to win a national championship,” he said. “I was here for 2014, but that was my redshirt year (when he didn’t play). I want to be part of a national championship team" as a performer on the field.
"And I feel like I have so many personal goals I haven’t reached yet, and I feel like my potential is high. … I feel like I have a lot more to put on film.”
But to get to the season, he, Jones and others have to go through another winter’s worth of workouts, and spring drills, and summer workouts.
“It’s super tough,” Jones said of the Marotti regimen. “It’s more of a mental frustration than physical. I mean, the physical part is real, but mentally you’ve got to prepare yourself for what he puts you through, but it’s very helpful.”
Campbell said the thought of that “definitely was a factor as well — you kind of think about going through that stuff, and obviously at a top level like Ohio State, it’s definitely tough. But me and Terry, and J.D. (Johnnie Dixon), we’re like immune to that stuff. … We love the grind. We know how to grind.”
They also know that in coming back for another season, they will face the jeopardy that comes with the sport every time the helmet is strapped on, be it for spring practice, preseason camp or the season.
“You always think about injury, but I could be training and run a route in pro day, and you could get hurt then, too,” McLaurin said. “You can’t play the game scared. You can’t play it fearing injury, while you can be mindful of it. So we don’t focus on that. We just try to give everything we’ve got, and pray for health and strength.”
Campbell had to miss a couple of games last season because of a concussion.
“That aspect … you’re aware of it … But for me personally, that’s never even crossed my mind while I’m playing,” Campbell said.
The next several weeks, though, are about physical conditioning while continuing to recover from the long 14-game season that included a win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and a victory over Southern California in the Cotton Bowl.
“At the same time, it’s little bit like starting from scratch, building that camaraderie, that brotherhood all up again, because we have different players, different leaders,” McLaurin said. “Basically we start from day one in building up that stuff.”
Listen to the BuckeyeXtra Football podcast: