Hailing from Ashburn, Georgia, it’s no wonder Tamorrion Terry was a relative unknown entering his senior year at Turner County High School. The country town has a population of just over 3,600, and the county, as a whole, about 8,000. Downtown church steeples and the local sausage market are surrounded by open fields of peanut crops and strawberry orchards. Every March, residents celebrate the Fire Ant Festival, the city fair with vendors, food, and both the annual fire ant calling and “mantyhose” contests. The small town is just a short, two-hour drive south to Tallahassee, through open rural Georgia state routes.
Terry didn’t accumulate any frequent flyer miles attending the national football camps that form the basis for recruiting rankings. So it is understandable that Troy University was the only FBS offer he had headed into his senior year, when most highly touted recruits have already committed to schools.
But Terry wouldn’t remain an unknown for very long.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video could be worth millions. On an oddball play, where his teammate fumbled after everyone thought the play was dead, the then 6’3, 180 pound Terry showed the blazing speed that would eventually become his trademark. With visions of Larry Fitzgerald in Super Bowl XLIII and DK Metcalf chasing down Budda Baker, the young and scrawny Tamorrion hawked down the fumble-recovering defender after a near 100 yard sprint. In essence, Terry teleported into the camera frame to make the play just before the unsuspecting defender would cross the goal line.
Terry was finally recognized very late in the recruiting process, with 247 Sports first ranking him in November 2016, just a few months before his spring 2017 graduation. It appears that a flurry of fall 2016 highlight videos on the Hudl platform played a role in uncovering the Ashburn product. He received extremely late offers from Auburn, Georgia, and Florida State; eventually choosing FSU with his high school teammate Ontaria Wilson.
And so, to Tallahassee he went.
After redshirting as a freshman in 2017, Terry broke out in 2018 as a redshirt freshman. He compiled 35 receptions for 744 yards, averaging more than 21 yards a catch while electrifying the Seminole faithful and sometimes frustrating them. For every play Terry made getting behind an overmatched defender, he also showed inconsistent hands and an occasional “alligator arm” over the middle.
Still, the young Terry showed a penchant for the big play, utilizing his long striding build up speed to take advantage of single coverage.
In 2019, Terry was special.
He nearly doubled his reception total while still averaging 20 yards a catch. He had six touchdown catches of at least 60 yards and three 70 plus yard receptions. All of this while Florida State cycled between James Blackman and Alex Hornibrook at quarterback. His 1,188 yards accounted for 36% of Florida State’s receiving yardage.
Then listed at 6’4, 205 pounds, the budding Terry added a new wrinkle to his game – the ability to elude and shed tacklers after the catch.
He became a YAC monster.
Once a lanky, but speedy bean pole, the weight he added made Terry more difficult to tackle. He showed more confidence in his God given athletic gifts. He showed more physicality.
Terry would return to Tallahassee for his redshirt junior season in 2020. In preparing for the season, Terry added yet another 20 pounds, increasing his weight to between 220 and 222 pounds.
But all that preparation would be for naught. Like many Americans, Tamorrion’s 2020 was derailed. He lost his grandmother before the season, he underwent knee surgery in preseason camp, and he clashed with Mike Norvell’s coaching staff. All of this while normalcy was shaken up by the global pandemic.
It should have been the climax to Terry’s journey from unknown to superstar. But rather than showcase his ability in his newly bulked frame, Terry’s preseason knee injury limited him in the season opener against Georgia Tech; he appears to have been on a tight snap count in FSU’s next game against Miami; and he noticeably limped through a 9/146/1 performance against Notre Dame.
Following the Notre Dame game, Terry had a second knee surgery that was described as a clean up procedure. That procedure caused Terry to miss the North Carolina and Louisville games. He posted just 2 catches for 14 yards against Pittsburgh before opting out for the remainder of the season. Regarding Terry’s decision to opt-out, head coach Mike Norvell commented rather unceremoniously that “Tamorrion Terry is no longer a part of the program, and we’ll move forward there.”
Now, with his Seminole career behind him, Terry must prove his value to NFL teams without an NFL combine, the annual underwear olympics where Terry would surely shine. But while he was once considered a potential first round pick, that no longer seems to be in the cards. Still, the NFL values players who can stretch defenses. Andy Isbella, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Marquise Brown, Henry Ruggs, and DJ Chark, were all recently drafted for their deep speed. But none of them possessed that deep speed in a 6’4, 220 pound body.
While he certainly has some flaws in his game, Terry has long demonstrated a commitment to his own greatness and a commitment to football. Whether it be playing defensive end in high school when coaches asked, committing to the strength and conditioning program at FSU, or choosing to play injured through the 2020 season instead of opting out, Terry has consistently demonstrated he is willing to work to be great.
And lord knows he has the gifts to become just that.