After 'Great' 2007, Terry Looking Toward '08

Even though 2007 didn't go the way Curtis Terry expected it to, the Ohio State linebacker said he enjoyed his time helping the Buckeyes' younger linebackers get into the swing of things. Now he'll hope to help them on the field with a healthy senior year of 2008.

The first words out of Curtis Terry's mouth are not what one might expect for a guy who had to sit out his entire senior season only to watch his teammates reach the national title game.

"It's been great, man," Terry said at bowl media day two days before the Ohio State football team was to take on LSU for the BCS title.

Great? Great to not be on the field for a team that did more than most would have expected before the season? Great to spend much of the year doing rehab instead of blowing up ball carriers on the field of play? Great to gear up for a senior season only to watch it slowly peter away even though it will be replaced by another a year down the line?

But that was what Terry said. After all, the Cleveland native had a front row seat for a wild ride and was still a good part of it even if he couldn't tape the ankles and button the chin strap on the field of play.

"I've been able to sit back and learn a lot and help the young guys develop," Terry said. "Not being able to play, I have to take on a different role. You have to become more of a spokesman, more of a mentor to the young guys like Jermale Hines, Brian Rolle and Tyler Moeller."

He'll get another shot at a senior year in 2008 when he returns to a linebacking corps that will feature returning 100-tackle men in James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman and plenty of talent chomping at the bit to get on the field in players like Austin Spitler and Ross Homan.

One would figure that Terry will have a chance to earn the starting strong-side linebacker spot filled capably by Larry Grant in 2007. The two were battling for the job at the beginning of camp with the 6-2, 236-pound Terry coming off of a 2006 season in which he made 17 tackles, forced and recovered a fumble and proved a versatile piece of Ohio State's 3-3-5 "dime" defense.

However, Terry badly turned an ankle early in the August workouts while colliding with Aaron Gant while making a tackle.

"It's just a freak accident," he said. "He's coming in to help and somehow we got twisted up and I had a high ankle sprain."

At the time, Grant told reporters that Terry would be back by Sept. 1, the date of the opening game against Youngstown State. However, Terry instead donned windpants for that contest and talk of a medical redshirt surfaced.

"We originally had plans to get me back around the sixth game of the season, depending on how bad it was, but it ended up being a little worse than we had hoped for," Terry said. "I really wasn't back to 100 percent until like the eighth game of the season. By then it was too late. We got together with the coaches and we decided that they would rather have me for a full year than to have me for a couple games."

In his stead, Grant improved on his 18-tackle 2006 by finishing fifth on the '07 squad with 51 tackles while adding 9.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and an interception.

"Larry's a great player," Terry said. "He's very athletic. He brings a lot to the table. I feel like he's a great leader. He helps. He's motivational. He helps get guys going when they need to get going. I think he helped the defense tremendously. I'm glad he was here."

With Terry limited to a sideline role, the Glenville product did the best he could, acting as another coach to a young Buckeye linebacking group that included those named above as well as players like Thaddeus Gibson and Mark Johnson.

"I just kind of try to teach them the tricks of the trade, a few of the things I know and I've picked up," Terry said. "I've just helped them understand the concepts of the defense."

As for how that group was coming along, Terry said, "They're coming along fine. They're going to be fine. Everybody's learning a lot and is eager to learn."

Terry is looking forward to his final shot in 2008. He expects to be fully healthy heading into the season after the 2007 injury and a 2006 foot injury that limited him. With standouts like Laurinaitis and Freeman back, the linebackers should be an important part of the Buckeye arsenal yet again.

"I think we're excited every year, especially with all the leadership and everyone with another year under their belts," Terry said. "We figure we're going to be the heart and soul of this defense for many years to come."


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