TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – When Willie Taggart took over as Florida State’s head coach in December, he spent his first few weeks on the job observing the team’s preparation for the Independence Bowl and getting a feel for his new roster.
He got a first look at Seminole standouts like Jacques Patrick and Brian Burns, and had a chance to watch youngsters such as Cam Akers and D.J. Matthews flash their potential.
But the more Taggart watched, the more his eye was drawn to a freshman receiver who had yet to even set foot on the field during a live game.
Tamorrion Terry couldn’t crack FSU’s receiver rotation a year ago. But as the Seminoles practiced for their bowl game, Terry couldn’t be stopped.
“He’s one of the first guys that I was able to remember his name,” Taggart said. “Because he was making plays every day out in practice.”
Terry has since parlayed an impressive month of bowl practices into an impressive month of spring camp and, after playing a starring role at Saturday’s Garnet and Gold Game, Florida State fans all know his name, too.
Blessed with a 6-foot-4, 197-pound frame, Terry made quick work of the Gold team’s defensive backs with a four-catch, 129-yard performance during the Garnet’s 31-13 victory.
That includes one 13-yard touchdown midway through the game, as well as a 47-yard completion in which Terry was stopped just inches short of the goal line.
“He tried to get me and say he had two (touchdowns),” Taggart said with a laugh. “He tried. Oh boy. We’ll see it on film.”
Been waiting a whole year for this 🙏🏽💯🔥pic.twitter.com/cdZC9D2JXf
— Tamorrion Terry (@TT1Batman) April 15, 2018
After spending his freshman year buried in a passing game that saw 17 different players make at least one catch, Terry couldn’t help but feel a few butterflies in his stomach as he ran through the tunnel at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday.
And even more so when he saw a bigger-than-anticipated crowd of more than 60,000 fans in attendance.
But 47-yard passes have a way of breaking the ice.
Especially ones that involve shaking a defender down the right sideline, splitting two more would be tacklers and then dragging a potential starting safety to the cusp of the goal line.
“I didn’t expect to do all of it, because I was a little nervous at first,” Terry said. “But once I got that first catch, I just started playing like I was in high school.”
That’s a welcome development for an FSU receiving corps looking to replace the big-bodied Auden Tate and steady tight end Ryan Izzo.
A native of Ashburn, Ga., a small town about 90 minutes south of Macon, Terry put up more than 1,000 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior at Turner County High and earned a four-star designation from every major scouting service despite playing in Georgia’s smallest classification.
Like many a member of Florida State’s signing class of 2017, Terry had designs on making a quick impact with the Seminoles.
Instead, he spent the year adjusting to the college game while working with FSU’s scout team.
“I thought I was going to be able to play last year,” Terry said. “But stuff happens.”
Good stuff, lately.
It started on the first day of Florida State’s spring practice, when Terry made a juggling, acrobatic catch in the end zone that had media and fans in attendance doing a double-take.
It continued over the next few weeks, when Terry and 6-foot-3 junior Keith Gavin teamed up to give FSU’s secondary fits with their blend of size and speed.
And it culminated – for now at least – with Saturday’s showing, a performance that saw Terry make a deep catch on a trick-play throw from D.J. Matthews (a play that might have gone the distance were it not for provisions against tackling the second half), as well as go up and over veteran safety A.J. Westbrook for a score in the back of the end zone.
“Nobody can guard him,” said Bailey Hockman, Terry’s quarterback with the Garnet team. “You can put him out there on anybody, and, if I’ve got him 1-on-1, I’m going to take it. He’s a great player.”
Terry’s most impressive moment might not have come during any of those plays, though. In fact, it might have happened when Terry wasn’t even touching the ball.
Early in the second quarter, Khalan Laborn took a handoff 91 yards up the middle for a Garnet touchdown – yes, it was another highlight-reel play from a redshirt freshman looking to make an impact.
And while Laborn’s run was excellent in its own right, a few astute fans upon replay noticed that Terry had done something just as eye-popping.
Keep an eye on No. 15 while watching the play:
Just to reiterate, that’s a 6-4, nearly 200-pound receiver chasing down a running back with a head start.
“He might be the fastest guy on the team,” defensive end Brian Burns told Warchant.com. “I’m not going to say he is, because there are a lot of fast guys. But he’s close to it.”
Just as fast is the way Terry has seemingly run past the frustration of his first year and positioned himself to be a key player in the Seminoles’ passing attack this fall.
And with FSU transitioning to a new offense and a new-look receiving corps, there should be no shortage of chances for Terry to have more days like the one he had Saturday.
“I had to try to put on a show,” he said. “Try to get my name out there.”
Just like Taggart, everyone knows Terry’s name now.