Keeston Terry Excels in a New Role

Sept. 17, 2010

Adjusting from high school to college life can be an overwhelming experience by itself for incoming freshmen, but for Keeston Terry that was only part of the equation.

Terry, a three-time all-state wide receiver at Blue Springs (Mo.) High School, was already adjusting to the increased speed and athleticism of Division I college football in addition to the normal college acclimation when he found out he would have to make another change as well.

On August 19, Terry’s first day of classes at KU, head coach Turner Gill announced that Terry would be switching to safety for the 2010 season. Terry, who played free safety his junior year of high school before focusing only on offense his senior year, said he was initially surprised when the coaches approached him about moving to the other side of the ball, but he knew it was too good of an opportunity to turn down.

“I was surprised because I felt like I was doing pretty well at receiver,” Terry said. “But when I heard about the opportunity to play safety, I knew that might be my only chance this year of playing so I took it.”

Terry began studying his playbook immediately and impressed the KU coaches with his quick learning skills. Safeties coach Robert Wimberly had never seen a freshman grasp the defensive schemes so quickly.

“Personally, I’ve never had that done,” Wimberly said. “I’ve had a couple situations where I had to try to get a true freshman that we brought in from high school ready and they haven’t been as ready as he has – which is really a credit to him mentally – being able to understand and pick up on things the first time around.”

Terry explained it was both a mental and physical process to learn the defense at such a rapid rate.

“I have a really good memory,” said Terry. “They gave me a playbook but it’s a lot easier to pick up things when you actually run through them at full speed. The good thing is they kept giving me repetitions during practice so that helped me remember all the plays.”

The 6-foot-2, 185 pound Terry has played in both of KU’s games this season, recording four tackles against North Dakota State and five against Georgia Tech. His nine total tackles currently rank fifth for all KU defenders. Wimberly feels Terry has the necessary attributes to continue his early success throughout the season.

“He has the athleticism and the cover skills,” said Wimberly. “I think with him playing both defensive back and wide receiver in high school he’s able to have a little more instinct as far as what a receiver may be thinking as they run their route. That benefits him because you can see that. He understands when a break is going to happen on a post route and he can turn. His footsteps are really good.”

Terry has made the transition from offense to defense very smoothly. However, he is still getting used to the transition from high school to college life.

“It’s tough because you get done with practice, you go home and you have nothing cooked,” Terry said. “You have to go to the Burge Union or make something yourself. You have to always have your alarm set. There’s no mom waking you up in the morning. It was tough at first but I think I’m getting used to it.”

Terry and the Jayhawks will take on Southern Mississippi Friday evening in Hattiesburg, Miss., at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPN.

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