No stranger to recruiters

TERRAIL LAMBERT, one of the top prep defensive backs in the West, has been offered scholarships by USC, Notre Dame, Washington State and others, but is keeping his recruiting cards close to the proverbial vest at this stage of the process.

A 5-11, 185-pound two-way athlete from Ventura (Calif.) Saint Bonaventure, Terrail's is no stranger to college recruiters because two of his touted former teammates were the focus of intense of recruiting wars: Lorenzo Booker and Whitney Lewis, now at Florida State and USC, respectively. caught up with Lambert and asked him about playing with Whitney -- what that did to his own game, and what schools are showing the most interest in him.

"I like running the ball too, but defense is more of my natural position," Lambert said, acknowledging where he feels he'll be playing in college. But the 236 yards rushing on 12 carries he earned last year can't be ignored -- that's a 19.7 average! He also had 66 tackles, 11 sacks and 9 pass deflections in 2002.

As far as his physical stats, they are off the charts. Lambert has reportedly run a 4.21 once, but feels he's a consistent 4.3 40 runner. His shuttle? 3.85 seconds. Vertical jump? 38 inches.

So what are coaches telling Terrail about his game? "According to them, they believe my reaction time is pretty good," he said. "They believe I react well when the ball is in the air and I get there in a hurry. And I'm physical."

As for himself, it's a little simpler. "I like big plays," he said. "Whatever makes the crowd cheer, works for me."

His big-play mentality can, in part, go back to his one-on-one battles with a player that made his reputation on making things happen - current USC signee Whitney Lewis. "That contributed a lot to how I play now," Lambert said of practicing against Lewis. "Without him, I can honestly say that I probably would not be as good in coverage. Not everybody gets to go up against one of the top receivers in the nation on a regular basis, and I was fortunate enough to do that. And I'm glad too, because it's made me better now."

Playing against Whitney over and over allowed Terrail to learn the first rule of pass defense. "Being a defensive back, you have to have no memory," he said. "You have to have the discipline to bounce back and up your game."

He's backed up his game to the point where USC, Notre Dame, Northwestern, San Diego State, Oregon, Washington State and Washington have all offered Lambert a scholarship. "USC, Notre Dame, Northwestern, San Diego State, Washington and Florida State recruiting the hardest right now," Terrail said. Another former teammate, RB Lorenzo Booker, is currently playing for the Seminoles.

Terrail would not acknowledge a leader, as he's still formulating how he'll attack the recruiting process. "I know I would like to travel and see what every school has to offer," he said. I do know that the majority of schools I'll be visiting will be out of state. I can say that."

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