People harped on him a year ago, when he was an unknown junior college transfer from Homestead, Fla.
The lanky, lean, 6-foot-5 James Terry didn't have the softest hands, didn't run the greatest routes, and didn't have the savvy that predecessors like Kevin Lockett, Darnell McDonald and Quincy Morgan had.
But he showed signs.
"When he came here, there a lot of things going on in his life," coach Bill Snyder said, "and now he's settled down and brings a little greater focus to the practice field. He wants to perform well."
Terry played in 12 games last season, catching 28 passes for 561 yards to become the Wildcats' second-leading receiver. His big-play ability was evident in catching 10 passes of 20 or more yards, and in his five touchdown grabs.
People remember him for his somersault flip into the endzone for a touchdown against Louisiana-Monroe, but they also remember him for all of the near-misses — the dropped passes that could have gone for big yardage.
Yet the high school quarterback-turned-college receiver dedicated himself in the offseason to becoming the next great receiver in K-State annals.
His play thus far in 2003 has proven he has done just that.
Through K-State's first four games, Terry leads the Wildcats with 17 catches for 391 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers put him on pace to gain nearly 1,370 yards this season, which would break Quincy Morgan's single-season record of 1,166 yards.
"James has played relatively well," Snyder said. "You've seen him make some mistakes, but I've been really pleased. I think he's a little more inspired now, being a senior."
Terry has also made a big imprint on the Big 12 this season. He leads the conference in total receiving yards and is third in yards per game, more than seven yards better than All-American Rashaun Woods.
Terry also ranks third in the NCAA in total yards, and is in the top 25 in yards per game. His current per-catch average of 23 yards is second only in school history to Aaron Lockett.
Not all of those catches have been easy, either. Last week against Massachusetts, Terry simply out-leaped two and three defenders in hauling down several passes that seemed as if they were thrown up for grabs.
"That one (catch) he made down here, I thought that was the best catch he's made," Snyder said of Terry's leaping grab over a UMass cornerback and safety. "I don't know if I can think of one, outside of Kevin Lockett, that would warrant the same applause."
By the time he left the game in the fourth quarter, Terry had caught eight passes for a career-high 120 yards.
"James had quite a few yards," offensive coordinator Greg Peterson said. "Any time you get a hundred yard receiver, you're getting some production."
Terry isn't perfect, yet, not by any stretch. He's had dropped passes and had a ball jarred loose last week that resulted in an interception. On a catch near the sideline in the Massachusetts redzone, Terry had the ball knocked loose and the fumble resulted in losing possession.
But he didn't give up.
"He put the ball on the ground a few times when most of us would have caught it, and made some tremendous catches that most of us wouldn't have," Snyder said. "But when we put the ball close to him he's able to catch it. He's far more consistent than he has been, but he has a long ways to go."
Indeed, he's come a long way from Homestead, Fla. Through South Dade High School and past Butler County Community College, Terry has continued to improve. Now at K-State, his sights are set on one last destination — the NFL.
"He's just done a nice job," Snyder said. "James is one of those guys — he could be an even better player."
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