TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Forget, just for a moment, Tamorrion Terry’s two touchdown catches last week.
They were both impressive and important, and Terry’s teammates and coaches both had plenty to say about them before Florida State’s practice on Tuesday morning.
But before getting to those touchdowns, which helped lift FSU to a 36-26 win over Samford, Walt Bell first wanted to discuss other aspects of Terry’s game.
“I think the things that he did exceptionally well on Saturday had nothing to do with the two touchdowns,” said Bell, FSU’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “You talk about a guy that blocked and played hard without the ball, and was an unbelievable teammate – I mean, he was unbelievable without the ball.”
At Florida State, there may be no higher form of praise for a receiver.
Anyone at this level, the thinking goes, can run routes and catch passes. Anyone can have an impact on the game with the ball in their hands.
But in a sport where even the best receivers might touch the ball a dozen times on a great day, position coach David Kelly is looking for receivers who can make an impact every time they set foot on the field.
“Oh yeah, he preaches that every day,” Terry said. “Every day we practice, we come out here and work on our blocking and our takeoffs.”
A blocking receiver can be the difference between a short gain and a long touchdown. A receiver who draws a double-team creates space for a teammate.
Those things might not show up in the box score, but, in a close game, they can be the difference between winning and losing.
“A lot of things that people don’t notice,” Bell said.
Do those things enough, though, and the things that people do notice all of a sudden seem to follow in kind.
“When guys play tough without the ball, for some reason, whatever that reason may be, when they’re willing to do those things, all of a sudden, they start making tough catches,” Bell said. “Because toughness is either you are or you aren’t.”
Which might explain how Terry did this:
For Terry to get open near the goal line, and then to track down a ball thrown slightly behind him, requires athleticism.
But to wrestle the ball away from a charging defensive back? Bell believes that comes down to toughness.
“When you see how (Terry) played without the ball, that’s probably why he made that tough catch, contested,” he said.
It was Terry’s second touchdown grab of the night and, with less than two minutes to play in the second quarter, it put the Seminoles in position to complete a comeback later in the game.
Terry’s first, which put FSU on the scoreboard, was of a more classic variety: Find a hole in the defense, go up and make a catch, then outrace a trio of defenders into the end zone.
Yes, Terry can make the tough plays. But he can make the pretty plays, too.
“He’s a very special guy,” quarterback Deondre Francois said. “He played well, did a lot of good things for us on offense, made a lot of big catches.”
When every catch goes for a touchdown – as Terry’s did against Samford – then they’re all big.
That might be an unreasonable standard moving forward, but it’s about in line with Terry’s expectations for this season.
An under-the-radar prospect from Ashburn, Ga., Terry had size (6-4, 197 pounds), speed (he ran the 200-meter dash in 23.31 seconds in high school) and production (1,187 yards, 19 touchdowns as a senior at Turner County High).
What he didn’t have, at least at first, was much buzz on the recruiting circuit. Florida State was his first major scholarship offer, although he eventually drew interest from Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi.
Two years later, Terry has the look of one of the most promising young receivers in the country. He was the talk of FSU’s spring camp – talk he backed up with a breakout performance in the Garnet and Gold Game – and has since followed that up with four catches for 83 yards and two scores this season.
“He’s a talented football player for us, a kid that can go up and attack the ball on one-on-one,” coach Willie Taggart said. “And a kid that can stretch the field for you as well.”
Terry, however, doesn’t have much interest in discussing those plays. He’s already looking ahead to what comes next.
“I felt good about that, but I really can’t say too much about those touchdowns,” he said. “Because I’m looking forward to making a lot more.”