Panthers land a "Hidden Gem"

Friday, during the annual Walt Harris Football Camp, there were well over 250 prospects on hand. Players came from as far away as California, Florida, and Wisconsin. Most have hopes of showing enough to the Panther coaching staff to earn a scholarship opportunity. Several players stood out at their positions for various reasons.

One player really caught my eye, perhaps more than any of the hundreds I have watched this spring. He has the size, speed, power, agility, and that attitude that when you're around a kid, you just have that feeling he's a special one. Then, the Pittsburgh Panthers offered on Saturday and within seconds they had their 3rd verbal commit for the class of 2005.

DT/FB Marlon Terry (6-2, 278, 4.69) of John R. Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio committed to the University of Pittsburgh this afternoon. Terry continues the Buchtel-to-Pittsburgh pipeline that has brought the Panthers Brandon Hayes, Darrell McMurray, Ramon Walker, 2004 starting FB Tim Murphy, and 2004 recruit Steve Walker. Head Coach Claude Brown has been bringing 20-40 players to the camp for several years. Terry played TE in a run oriented offense for the Griffins. Brown knows how special of a player he has in Terry.

"He's very underrated. He is so versatile. To have a kid who is that big with the foot-speed that Marlon possesses is unreal. He has just begun to realize his potential. He went in the weight room the first time and put up 300lbs, which is not an ordinary thing for a high school kid to do. He can play anywhere FB, TE, DE, LB, DT", said Brown.

For two straight days, the coaching staff watched the athletic marvel. During one drill, Terry matched up against RB's who were 100 lbs smaller than him and he stayed with them stride for stride. During back work drills, he had the quickest feet of any back besides LaRod Stephens and Youngstown Ursuline RB James Allen.

Most of the on-lookers at the camp could not help but compare Terry to a former Panther DT Tyre Young, the only difference is that Marlon is bigger and more athletic. Friday night Terry was part of a group of about 35 kids who went through a workout with the coaching staff. After the workout, the question was posed: Do you think Pitt will offer?

"If they do I'm committing," said Terry.

"Steve Walker is my boy. Ee are best friends and I want to play with him. And this place is the best, I love it here."

After the Saturday session, Marlon came out of the UPMC facility with a big smile on his face. As he approached me, he said, "They offered and I took it. In February, I'm signing that piece of paper to become a Pittsburgh Panther."

Besides playing with Steve, what were the biggest reasons why you chose Pittsburgh?

"I liked the environment. The people treat you with respect. Mostly, it was just that feeling like everything was right about it, it was the place for me. There was nothing negative about my trip there."

How did your family react to your decision?

"My mom is real proud of me. We went over to my cousin's graduation party and I was telling everyone"

Are you 100% committed or are you going to still take visits?

"I'm a Panther. I'm focusing on my academics now and getting all that stuff taken care of. I've been to Indiana and Akron, and there's no comparison."

What was Coach Brown's reaction?

"He was right with me. He just said 'are you going to do what you said you'd do?' I said 'yes.' I told the coaches I'm a Panther. They congratulated me and said welcome to the Panther family. We're happy to have you."

Terry also held offers from Indiana and Akron, before choosing the Panthers. He was getting heavy interest from Iowa, Notre Dame, Virginia, Vanderbilt, and Boston College. Marlon finished the school term with a 2.75 GPA.

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