Beyond The Trophies: Jacquise Terry
By Don Leypoldt, The Maxwell Football Club
Who is the best player in college football?
The Maxwell Football Club will crown who the Club feels is the best this December. But any award is subject to debate and discussion.
One question in college football is not subject to debate: If you had an Aeronautics question in Final Jeopardy and could select any one in Division I to answer it, who would it be?
Kent State senior running back Jacquise Terry would be the unanimous pick.
Terry gets it done on the field. He was Kent State's leading rusher as a sophomore, despite seeing time as a wide receiver. He also led the Golden Flashes as a junior in both rushing yards and scoring. As a senior, Terry has either scored a touchdown or led Kent State in rushing in each game of the Golden Flashes' recent three-game win streak.
But Terry's key number is 3.66. That isn't his yards per carry; it is his GPA. Terry was a second team Academic All-American as a sophomore and a first team Academic All-America as a junior. The Aeronautics major is just one of three players in all of FBS to make the first or second team in both years, and he is the only skill position player to do so.
"Jacquise has been a great leader for us and he is extremely well rounded. He puts great importance on everything he does," observed Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell. "He applies himself extremely hard. He's very disciplined with his education and his preparation for football. Whatever he chooses to do, he's going to be very good at it, because of the thoroughness of his preparation and his attention to detail."
Terry could have been another statistic, growing up in a tough area where many of his colleagues fell through the cracks. Instead, Terry leaves the "cracking" to opening his textbooks. He recently took some time to talk with the Maxwell Football Club.
MFC: What is your hometown like? And how did you get from Phenix City, Alabama to Kent State?
JT: My hometown is very small. Guys can get into a lot of trouble and I can credit my Mom for keeping me out of trouble and being very strict on me.
I played high school football in Columbus, Georgia about five minutes from Phenix City. I played at St. Anne Pacelli, a small, private high school. I was a four sport athlete: all-state in football, all-state in basketball and I was a contributor in baseball as well. I was really looking to play college basketball but I had a great junior and senior year in football. Kent State was one of the only teams who wanted me to keep playing running back, which is my natural position. I came up on my visit and fell in love with it.
MFC: You're a natural running back but you played a little wide receiver a couple of years ago.
JT: Yes, my sophomore year we retained Eugene Jarvis as running back but the coaches wanted me on the team as well. They put me at receiver until he got hurt, then I moved back to running back full time.
MFC: In Kent State's offense, do you catch a lot of passes or is the running back more traditional with just carrying the ball?
JT: They try to utilize me by getting me to the outside where I can catch passes.
MFC: Kent State has a nice three game win streak going. What has been clicking these past couple of weeks?
JT: On offense, we've been executing well and not turning the ball over. We've been doing the small things: no pre-snap penalties and things like that. Just running the ball and when they stack the box, throwing it over their heads. The defense has continued to play well and the special teams are clicking so we're clicking on all cylinders.
MFC: You opened the season with Alabama, who has statistically the best defense in the country. What makes those guys so good?
JT: Man, I was just watching those guys play last Saturday. Watching how they get to the ball and watching how much of a family they are. They're a tight knit group. It's amazing when you get that many guys with that much talent on one side of the ball, how that can impact a team.
MFC: New England Patriot wide receiver Julian Edelman was your quarterback in your freshman year. Did you learn anything from Edelman in the year you played together?
JT: I haven't talked to him since he left but when he was here, we were good friends. I was fortunate to play with him. He tossed me my first career touchdown my freshman year, so I thank him for that. Julian was a great football player and he showed that every day here. He worked hard and did his thing on the field. His senior year, he was a great influence off the field as well. That work he did at Kent State is showing right now in the NFL. He is making plays with the Patriots.
MFC: Shifting gears to off the field, why did you pick Aeronautics and could you explain what the major is to us non-science guys?
JT: Aeronautics is dealing with the building of planes and dealing with flight theory. You can be a pilot, or an air traffic controller or different things like that. It's a broad field that you can go into.
MFC: What attracted you to that major?
JT: When I was a senior in high school, I went to an Engineering and Aeronautics camp at Auburn University. I've been interested in it since then.
MFC: Hopefully you have a lot of football left in you, but after football what kind of job would you like to have?
JT: After football, I can pick different things. I can go to the Air Force or the Armed Services and be a captain or a pilot. An air traffic controller or an engineer or something in that field. My minor is in Construction Management so I can go into that field as well.
MFC: What advice would you give student-athletes, speaking as someone who has found success on both the football field and classroom?
JT: I'd say the best thing is time management and being focused. Once you get out of high school, they should set goals. Goals that they want to accomplish. Every year after that, in your sophomore, junior and senior year, set goals that you want to accomplish.
And time management. You have to be able to know when the right time is to do your homework, the right time to study football and when is the right time to have social time. You have to have great time management. Also, you need to be focused on completing the task. When you're on the football field, you can't be worried about the classroom. When you're in the classroom, you can't be worried about the football field. And sometimes, just have fun. If you do that, I feel you'll be very successful.
MFC: Have you always set ambitious goals for yourself?
JT: I always do. You aim high. Some goals I have set have not come true and some goals that I never imagined would come true have come true. It's neat to have accomplishments in different things. I've had them all my life but as you keep going up, it's harder to get accomplishments. To have them at this level is gratifying.
MFC: Division 1 football is hard. Despite that, you have a terrific GPA in a challenging major. What has been your motivation to do as well as you have done in the classroom?
JT: It comes from home. My Mom always instilled in me that if you get your degree, they can't take that away from you. People can get hurt in the football field or in a game, so they can be unable to play. But on my visit, (former Kent State head) Coach (Doug) Martin, said 'If you do well in the classroom, then you'll do well on the field.' They work hand in hand. Also, if you do well on the field, you'll do well in the classroom. Whatever I do, I try to be the best at it. That comes from when I was younger and seeing a lot of people fail in my hometown. I want to be one of those guys who is an example to young kids. To be an example and say that I actually made it.
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MAC defenders will tell you that running back Terry is successful on the ground. Kent State professors will tell you that student Terry is successful in the air. Whatever vehicle he uses for his life's journey, land or air, Terry's work ethic and determination to reach his goals will take him far. He is Exhibit A of how a student-athlete can use football as a vehicle to better himself.