Southern Miss football has long had a reputation for finding those diamonds in the rough.
When former Long Beach High School star Trevor Terry signs his letter of intent on Dec. 14 as planned, he could very well be the next overlooked prospect to turn into a Golden Eagle standout.
Terry was one of the best playmakers on the Coast in 2015 as a senior receiver at Long Beach, pulling in 62 catches for 1,234 yards and 12 touchdowns despite playing with five different quarterbacks.
He was a quick and athletic receiver in high school, but his 6-foot-1, 160-pound frame didn’t draw much interest from top college programs. His lone Div. I offer while at Long Beach came from Alcorn State in December 2015, but he had already decided at the time to graduate from Long Beach early and enroll at Jones County Junior College for the spring semester.
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The decision to arrive early at JCJC proved to be a wise one.
“Within three or four weeks, he had put on about 10 or 15 pounds of muscle,” Long Beach coach Forrest Williams said. “Once he was out of the hustle and bustle of high school life, he could focus on playing football and lifting weights.”
Terry played his freshman year at JCJC at a weight of 185 pounds, the result of extra time spent in the weightroom and at lunch.
“I was eating a lot. Every time I went to the cafeteria I was going back for another plate,” Terry said. “The strength and conditioning coach at Jones helped make me get a lot stronger fast. That combination helped me bulk up a lot.
When college coaches showed up to watch JCJC spring practice, they saw a new and improved Terry.
The offer arrives
USM convinced Terry to attend a July camp on the Hattiesburg campus and he showed up strong, running a 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds. That performance convinced the staff to offer Terry on the spot.
“I was excited. I was pumped,” Terry said. “I had a good feeling they were going to, but I didn’t think they’d offer me on the spot. I ran good times, ran good routes. They kept pulling me aside and talking to me.”
Terry also holds scholarship offers from Tulane and James Madison.
Terry has good speed, but what really makes him an attractive prospect are his good hands and lengthy wingspan. He consistently beats out defensive backs on high tosses.
“Trevor has incredible reach, good focus and the ability to elevate over guys,” Williams said. “He can go get the deep ball over the top. He’s also a very hard worker on the practice field and in the weight room. He’s really dedicated to improving his craft. He’s a polished receiver with crisp routes.”
Terry grew accustomed to not being one of the bigger guys on the football field as a youngster and that helped him develop a work ethic that earned him scholarship offers.
“It kind of motivated me that I wasn’t the biggest guy,” Terry said. “I have a bigger heart. I’m going to outwork whoever I play whether they’re bigger or smaller than me. I’m going to beat them no matter what.”
The JCJC offense didn’t have much success throwing the football this season under first-year head coach Steve Buckley, and Terry ranked second on the team with 16 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown.
Terry is looking forward to joining a USM offense that’s built a reputation for slinging it with the best of them in Conference USA. He was on hand for all of the Golden Eagles’ home games this season, and he’s already been talking with some of his future teammates.
With USM senior quarterback Nick Mullens set to graduate, Terry understands that he’ll likely be taking passes in the future from freshman Keon Howard.
“The coaches are real excited about Keon Howard,” Terry said. “I went to one practice at Southern Miss and he can throw the ball. I’m excited about catching passes for him.”
He will compete during spring practice to replace senior D.J. Thompson, who will wrap up his eligibility with the bowl game in December.
Terry is confident he can bring consistency to a USM passing game that wasn’t always sharp when it came to catching the football.
“My goal is to just be a dependable receiver,” Terry said. “This year the Southern Miss offense did have some problems with drops, being inconsistent. Everything my coaches ask me to do, I’ll do it.”