Terry Could See Double Duty This Fall

For media allowed a pair of rare opportunities to watch first hand as the Ohio State football team went through spring drills last week, perhaps the most conspicuous sight was the large, agile fellow sporting the black No. 99 jersey.

Numbers change from year to year, but there was no one on the spring roster handed out who had been assigned that number, and on top of that 99 was retired in honor of the late Bill Willis just last season.

Additionally, black jerseys are usually reserved for quarterbacks when they are being held out of contact, but this mystery player was definitely not afraid to mix it up.

That would be out of character for Curtis Terry, the player in question, but why the black 99 jersey instead of his customary white No. 55?

Reporters soon learned that the rugged senior, who entered spring drills a favorite to win the open strongside linebacker spot, donned the new numeral because he is working double time this spring by learning the ins and outs of fullback.

"I've been here for a long time, so the coaches know that I have a full grasp of the defense and I know everything at (strongside linebacker) so they wanted me to try to learn the offense and fullback to help them out as much as possible," Terry said.

One of the big projects of this spring has been finding a fullback after three seniors did so last season, and Terry is just the latest in a line of moves there. He finds as his competition for playing time at fullback senior Ryan Lukens, himself a linebacker until last December, and redshirt freshmen Spencer Smith, both of whom are walk-ons.

Terry said head coach Jim Tressel and linebackers coach Luke Fickell proposed the idea of his move during the second week of spring drills because of the need to find someone to clear room for junior tailback Chris Wells, who figures to be a Heisman Trophy candidate this fall after a 1,609-yard sophomore campaign last season.

"Running with Beanie, we really need a good fullback so they asked me to move over and told me to think about it," Terry said. "Anything to help the team. I decided I would go. We had a conference. I went and talked to Coach Fickell and he assured me that if I went I would be able to play both, so that kind of helped me make my decision."

"I like Curtis," Tressel said. "He's got a little bit of size and know-how. He knows what the defense is doing. He can play any one of the three linebacker positions so that's usually the guys the fullback is assigned to block so he knows what they're doing.

"We wanted him to work a lot at fullback these last two weeks so that he wouldn't go into camp if it unfolds that we really need him to play it and have to start from scratch."

The head coach said a number of options are being tried at fullback, with scholarship linebackers Austin Spitler and Andrew Sweat also seeing some reps along with tight end Brandon Smith. Additionally, the staff is tinkering with formations that feature Wells along with another of the team's usual tailbacks, in particular sophomore Brandon Saine.

"I'm not sure we know yet what the mixture is going to be," Tressel said.

For his part, Terry is hopeful he will be seeing time on both sides of the ball.

"Versatility is a big thing at the next level as well," he said. "So as much as I can do, I want to do it. Hopefully come September I'll be playing fullback and linebacker."

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