By LACY LUSK
Since he was little, James Terry has enjoyed drawing up plans. Designing football plays was a worthwhile activity, but not quite as appealing as creating blueprints.
Woodbridge’s second-team all-district running back and first-team linebacker has verbally committed to join Virginia’s football program next year. When Terry heads for Charlottesville, he’s looking to enroll in the university’s school of architecture.
“My uncle [Clifton Terry] is an architect and I liked to go over to his house,” Terry said. “I always was fascinated with house plans how they do what they do, how they pull it all together.”
Terry, the first member of the Prince William County class of 2003 to commit to a Division I-A program, rushed for 697 yards in just six games last season. He missed four games with a sprained right ankle, yet finished fifth in the area with nine rushing touchdowns.
Limited in preseason practice by a right hamstring injury, Terry hopes he has rested enough to be close to full health for his entire senior season. Recruited as a running back, he’s coming off a junior year in which he averaged 6.6 yards on 105 carries.
“He’s 6-foot-2 and 218 pounds and probably more defined than last year,” Woodbridge coach Keith King said of Terry, who’s entering his fourth season with Woodbridge’s varsity team. “There just aren’t very many people his size who can run a 4.5 (in the 40-yard-dash), can bench press 370 pounds and squat 560. He’s very gifted.”
Along with Virginia, Pittsburgh had offered Terry a full scholarship, he said. Maryland, Clemson, Syracuse and Tennessee also showed interest.
“When I visited [Virginia], I felt really comfortable,” Terry said. “I could relate to what they were doing and I think I can learn a lot. They have a lot of NFL experience on their staff, and that really impressed me.”
Terry has thrived on the field as he has been forced to gain independence away from football. Until October 2001, his mother, Condon, was overseas for a full year with the Baltimore Harbor-based USNS Comfort. For her job as an information technology senior chief in the U.S. Navy, Condon Terry was in Singapore for half of her son’s junior season.
“Especially when I was gone a whole year, I could see that James matured a lot,” Condon Terry said. “He has been more independent. It was a hard time on him and hard on me, but I think it has made him more mature.”
Though his parents recently moved to Stafford County, Terry remains at Woodbridge under the guardianship of teammate Marcus Reid’s family. Reid, a defensive tackle, missed the start of practice to attend a boot camp for the Army ROTC.
To compete in Division I-A at a school that includes a sophomore and two freshmen among its top three tailbacks Terry knows he needs to continue to improve. If he can get a full season in at Woodbridge, he and the Vikings (who went 2-8 each of the last two years) could make a major step forward.
“I’ve basically been busy this offseason working on my speed,” Terry said. “I’ll get big later, but I have to work on speed and footwork.”
After also playing basketball this summer for Woodbridge’s Metro South champions, Terry plans on returning to the court this winter. He played both sports until last year, when the ankle injury forced him to sit out basketball season.
The Viking football season kicks off at Potomac on Thursday night.
“He’s obviously very, very talented,” Potomac coach Ben Stutler said of Terry. “He’s gotten a lot of attention from quality Division I programs and he’s deserved it. When you only have four defensive starters back like we do, it’s a tough assignment.”
The challenge for opponents to stop him will be made more difficult if Terry’s practice hiatus helps him return to his game-breaking posture.
“I wasn’t running like normal because I’d probably tried to do too much,” Terry said. “So hopefully a week and a half of rest will make a big difference.”