BYU wide receiver Terenn Houk remembers when he wasn’t on anyone’s division one radar. BYU was basically the only school that took a serious look at him. That opportunity came only after a strong recommendation from former BYU quarterback and wide receiver Alex Kuresa - who played with Houk at a high school all star game - that the BYU Cougars coaching staff even learned of him.
“It’s pretty cool because coming out of high school I never thought that I would ever play D-1 football at all,” Houk said. “I just think it’s a blessing and I give all the glory to God.”
It’s been an interesting journey for Houk. As a senior in high school he was told by the BYU coaches they wanted him to walk-on for a semester since all their scholarships were taken. It was after a surprise phone call by Coach Mendenhall in June of 2011 that he learned BYU would have a scholarship available for him after all. Being a non-LDS, African-American with no ties to BYU, Houk had to make a decision. In the end he chose to come to BYU and he’s glad he did.
“It’s just an awesome feeling to think that I’ve played in the Rose Bowl, I’ve played at Nebraska, and play against these NFL athletes that everyone talks about like Myles Jack,” said Houk. “It’s cool to think that I can compete with them. It’s been a great experience for me all the way around.”
As one that was brushed aside by most division one programs, Houk reflects upon his BYU journey. Knowing where he came from, and how he almost didn’t get the chance to play D-1 football, Houk is amazed that he’s had the chance to play with and among some of the nation’s top football talents.
“It’s also cool to think I can play with guys like Tanner Mangum, who was [an Elite-11] co-MVP with Jameis Winston [who is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers], and Taysom Hill,” Houk said. “I feel like it’s a testament to hard work and believing in yourself and having the confidence to do anything you want to.”
However, the road to being a starting BYU wide receiver wasn’t an easy one. Houk has had to change who he was in order to become who he is today. He credits the character-building influences found in the university halls and inside the football hash marks for his own personal growth and success. However, one defining attribute had to occur first before another could take place.
“I feel like being at BYU has made me a better person,” Houk said. “You know, at first I thought at first I had to be a better football player, but I didn’t realize until I got better off the field that that is when stuff got better on the field. That is when things really started meshing for me and I really started playing.
“It’s a little backwards because you think in order for you to be a better player you have to perform first on the field and then everything follows. If you want to be the best you can be that’s not the way it works. You have to first be better off the field and that sets the tone for being a better player on the field.”
Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah once said that he didn’t just go through BYU, but that BYU went through him. Houk feels much the same way and feels that he’s a much better person and a more mature man because of that decision he made to come to BYU.
“BYU is a special place because there’s so much here,” Houk said. “You’ve got great fans, great academics, a great football atmosphere, great coaches, and it really opens your eyes up to what really is most important in life. You can experience things here that help prepare you for what’s out there, and I think that’s what Coach Mendenhall tries to do with his players is not just make them great on the field but great off it.”
If there was any advice Houk would give to an incoming athlete at BYU having a similar background to him, he has one small, yet priceless, piece of advice to give.
“Just buy in to the program that’s here at BYU and buy in to the system,” Houk said. “Don’t come here thinking that you’re going to make the team better. It’s BYU and the team that’s going to make you a better person.”