Until a few years ago, Richard Terrell played middle linebacker. Looking at him, he might appear to be a typical safety.
But Terrell’s current position doesn’t involve dodging oncoming linemen or the last line of pass defense. In fact, he’s on the first line of defense, playing end for Osbourn Park.
Terrell doesn’t look like a defensive end. He’s tall and rangy, but his game is speed: Get past offensive linemen before they have a chance to react. Evidence of his speed lies in his role on offense, where he serves as the backup for running back Roland Hilliard.
That strategy worked well in the Jackets’ opening week against Forest Park Terrell racked up three sacks in OP’s 25-0 win. It wasn’t that he had a special move that confounded Bruin blockers, and he the Jackets’ scheme didn’t disguise him as a player with little threat of rushing the quarterback.
It was all about the speed.
“Mostly I went untouched,” Terrell said after a recent practice. “With my speed and my quickness off the ball, I was able to make plays.”
Terrell’s been playing football since he was five, and most of that time he was a middle linebacker. But last year Terrell got bumped to the front.
The transition from standing up to playing as a down lineman hasn’t been difficult, Terrell said. From outward appearances, it’s only a change of scenery. The challenging part is the mental side, realizing it’s more difficult to follow the ball and making contact on virtually every play.
“We want to try to put as much speed on the field as we can get,” Beaty explained. “You don’t want to blitz, you want to try to get pressure from your front four. But you can’t put just anyone up there. He’s a tough kid.”
Terrell isn’t only a pass-rushing specialist. Some players excel at rushing the quarterback but struggle against the run. Beaty said Terrell doesn’t have that problem, since he’s physical enough to counter the running game. If the situation arises, Beaty said he wouldn’t hesitate to put Terrell into pass coverage though those situations would be rare.
“He’s a rangy guy with leverage, and natural strength,” said Beaty. “He’s tough to handle.”
His motor doesn’t take breaks either. The three sacks against the Bruins weren’t exactly expected, but playing hard, that was expected.
“Did we know he was going to get three sacks? No,” said Beaty. “Did we know he was going to go 100 percent, every down? No question.”
Terrell and the rest of the Yellow Jackets get a more difficult test on Friday night, when they host defending Northwest Region champion Hylton, who blanked Stonewall Jackson last week.
“Hylton’s a very good team,” said Terrell, “but if we play at 110%, I think we’ll come out on top.”
“We want the kids to play hard. We did in the two scrimmages we had and against Forest Park,” Beaty said. “This game’s about playing hard and getting momentum. Hopefully, we’ll practice hard enough. That’s all we can ask them to do.”