Terry Making The Best Of His Situation

The Ohio State coaches wound up with an unexpected mixed blessing in disguise when senior-to-be Curtis Terry went down with an ankle injury prior to the 2007 season. Now after enduring the rigors of a redshirt season, Terry has an interesting perspective on his situation and what he thinks about his chances for playing time moving forward.

Although it was not what he had in mind, the decision to redshirt Curtis Terry last year proved to be the right one for all parties involved. After suffering a high ankle sprain that knocked him out for an extended period of time, it was decided that the would-be senior at Ohio State would sit out the entirety of the season and come back fresh for 2008.

Good plan, right?

Well, not according to Terry himself, who is still lamenting the fact that he was not able to contribute on the field during game action one season ago.

But rather than harboring selfish feelings about the difficulty of watching from the sidelines, Terry's feelings stem from his desire to be there for his teammates.

"I would've traded it all in just to get out there for one play," he said. "I'm pretty sure that anyone that wasn't playing felt like they could've done something to help the team, but I just feel like if there was anything I could've done – special teams, anything – I would've traded it all."

Interesting words from a senior who figures to get the first shot at taking over the starting linebacker spot vacated by Larry Grant, who exhausted his eligibility and is prepping for the NFL draft.

As a junior, Grant earned two starts while playing in all 13 games for the Buckeyes. He recorded 17 tackles – 3.5 for loss – and earned the first start of his career as OSU hosted Michigan in an epic battle between the nation's top two teams.

But even then, Terry battled various foot and ankle injuries as he attempted to stay healthy. This year, OSU fans figure to get a long look at what a healthy Terry can finally do.

And that in itself is music to his ears.

"I feel great right now," he said. "I'm on a high. It's been so long since I've been able to be out there with them. It's amazing."

Terry said he is as healthy as he's been "probably since the end of my freshman year. I don't want to jinx myself, but I feel really good right now."

Fully healed, then, the product of Cleveland Glenville has the inside track on Grant's starting spot after entering the spring of 2007 as Grant's primary backup. While Grant would come off the field when the Buckeyes switched to their nickel defense, Terry comes into the game when OSU switches to its 3-3-5 "dime" defense.

Although linebackers coach Luke Fickell said Terry is fighting with the likes of Tyler Moeller and Jermale Hines for playing time, linebacker Austin Spitler discussed what he sees Terry bringing to the table.

"Curtis is very versatile," Spitler said. "He's a great pass rusher. It will be exciting to get him back out there. He's another physical presence and a great pass rusher."

Last season, though, Terry could only showcase those skills during practice. He returned from the injury in midseason and wound up working at a different position: the defensive secondary.

Describing himself as a "jammer" in the same vein as Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, Terry still found himself subject to some good-natured teasing from his linebacker teammates.

"A lot of times we mess around with Curtis and say, ‘We shunned you out last year because you weren't playing. You're not in the linebacker corps,' " senior linebacker Marcus Freeman said. "But it's good to have a guy like him back because even in the meeting rooms he's a guy that lifts up the room and on the field he's a guy that plays with a lot of emotion. He's a very talented linebacker."

But despite the fact that he did not plan to be in Columbus this season, Terry is planning on making amends for being on the sidelines for last year.

"I think the hardest part was probably senior day and losing to Illinois," he said. "My best friend Dionte Johnson was a senior and others I had grown close to, to see them go out like that on senior day was hard. Then there was the national championship. That was definitely hard.

"It's just something I had to deal with. I had to cope with it and realize if I just waited my time and just stayed patient that I would have another opportunity."

Now that his opportunity has arrived, Terry plans on making the most of it. Don't expect him to assume that he will be given the starting spot.

"Oh, no. Never," he said when asked if that was his mentality. "Jermale is doing a great job. Tyler's doing a great job. If I rest I won't be in there. They're going to play the best 11 players, whether they are seniors, juniors or whatever. The best players will play, so I approach every day as a new challenge. Our coaches stress that it's about competition.

"On the next level you're going to be challenged, so why not do it here?"

Buckeye Sports Top Stories