Football Team

Terry McLaurin remembers the Burrow-Haskins QB battle at OSU

Football Team

Getting ready for Ohio State's spring game in 2018, Terry McLaurin remembers sitting in a meeting with his wide receiver group thinking about the team's current quarterback competition.

"Shoot, it's a win-win for us whoever wins the competition," McLaurin recalls saying.

That competition, of course, was between Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow. Before each quarterback was a first-round pick and a Heisman Trophy finalist (a winner, in Burrow's case), the two squared off in Columbus for the Buckeyes' starting QB job, a competition that then-head coach Urban Meyer called "extremely close."

The two will be on opposing sidelines for the first time as professionals Sunday when Burrow's Bengals travel to the nation's capital. Haskins won't be starting for Washington, which deters what would have been a great storyline, but there's a chance he could play, should starter Alex Smith get hurt.

With the Bengals coming to town this weekend, McLaurin -- now starring for Washington -- was asked on Thursday what he remembers about the close battle between the two QBs back in college.

"It was really close," McLaurin said. "I just remember that summer, they would go back and forth who would have a good day. Nobody really had a bad day. It was just one guy stood out, then the other guy stood out the next day. They were in a competition, but they were also trying to help each other."

While McLaurin said that both quarterbacks were trying to help each other out, Haskins admitted earlier this year that during the competition, the two passers "couldn't stand" one another.

 

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"I love Joe but during that battle, for almost two years, me and Joe couldn’t stand each other,” Haskins said. "It was always this heated competition but we knew we got the best out of each other. He made it hard for me and I made it hard for him and I didn’t let him take it away."

Few had a better view of the competition that McLaurin, who was on the receiving end of several passes from both quarterbacks in practice. Besides the coaching staff, it's unlikely anyone had a better grip of how the competition would shake out than McLaurin and his fellow receivers.

Asked if he felt if Burrow and Haskins constantly tried to one-up each other throughout the fight for the QB1 spot, McLaurin said that was definitely the case, and rightfully so.

"You got to have that mentality like you're the best guy and you're the leader of the team," McLaurin said. "They had big shoes to fill with JT [Barrett] leaving. That next guy was the leader of our team, the leader of our program. So, they were obviously going to continue to compete and one-up each other in a sense to be that starting quarterback."

McLaurin didn't think there was one specific thing that Haskins did better than Burrow, but felt that his current teammate approached the competition in a way that was really impressive for someone his age.

"I feel like Dwayne really capitalized on that opportunity of competing when he got the chance," McLaurin said. "We had saw Dwayne against Team Up North [Michigan] come in a big spot when we needed him, a guy that never really started, and he came in and helped us win that game. He knew he had the capability, just the way he carried himself and carried that momentum through that offseason.

"He continued to try and change his body so he'd be better for that position," the wideout continued. "Just the approach he took to that competition was really impressive from a guy that was really young at the time."

Of course, the result of that competition ended up working out for both quarterbacks. Haskins would win the job and go on to set almost every single-season passing record for the Buckeyes in 2018 before declaring for the NFL Draft, where Washington would select him 15th overall.

Burrow would transfer to LSU and start two years for the Tigers, with the second one of the most impressive single seasons in college football history. The 23-year-old broke numerous SEC and college football records with his 5,671 passing yards, 60 passing touchdowns, and just six interceptions, all while leading LSU to an undefeated 15-0 record and a national championship.

The No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Burrow's now in charge of turning around the Bengals franchise. A tall order, but one McLaurin thinks the rookie is certainly capable of.

 

"He's a competitor and a guy, it's easy to rally around him" McLaurin said. "It just seems like he's able to galvanize a team. No matter what team he's on, guys want to play hard for him, guys want to compete with him. It's just the edge he plays with at quarterback. He's really tough and he's not afraid to take hits and compete his butt off to try and help his team win."