The most surprising move of the Kansas University football team’s preseason camp may have been sophomore running back Toben Opurum’s shift to linebacker.
The most fruitful?
That could be true freshman Keeston Terry moving from wide receiver to safety. At least that’s the take held by Blue Springs (Mo.) High football coach Kelly Donohoe, Terry’s prep coach and supporter.
“The move to free safety could be a really good one,” Donohoe told the Journal-World shortly after KU coach Turner Gill announced the switch.
Donohoe’s not just guessing here either. He’s seen Terry, a four-star prospect at wide receiver, perform in the defensive backfield and he believes Terry’s skills on defense match those he’s shown on offense.
“He played free safety for us his junior year and was phenomenal,” said Donohoe, who played quarterback at Kansas from 1986-89. “His senior year he had a shoulder injury and the way the shoulder injury set up, if he exposed himself like he was tackling somebody he was really prone to hurt it more seriously, so the doctor recommended he just stay on offense.”
Donohoe continued: “That was a big hit to us because the kid’s a phenomenal free safety. The way he covers the field, hits people, his instincts, his run to the football, hand-eye coordination to pick balls off, he’s a freak back there, he really is.”
Although most of Terry’s high school accolades came because of his receiving prowess, Terry is no stranger to the defensive side of the ball. His father, Doug Terry, lettered at KU as a defensive back from 1988-91 and went on to play four seasons in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Donohoe said Doug Terry’s impact on his son’s career was easy to spot while watching him patrol the secondary in high school.
Clearly, Gill, who mentioned his team’s depth at wide receiver while explaining the switch, saw enough from Terry on defense to agree.
“We looked at him as a safety or wide receiver when we recruited him, so this is not totally out of whack for us,” Gill said last week.
“We just thought that he would give us a little bit more speed (at safety) and that he was somebody that would want to take a chance to have a chance to play. And this gives him an opportunity to play and go from there.”
Gill said Terry would have to prove he could play 15-20 snaps per game at safety before becoming a regular part of the rotation. Because Terry came to KU with the knowledge that such a move could take place, Donohoe believed that wouldn’t be a problem.
“We always talked about, ‘Keeston, you may end up being a free safety,’” Donohoe said. “He knew that going in. I think in high school he caught so many touchdowns and stuff and that was fun for him, but he’ll be a special, special talent at free safety and I think Turner and those guys probably saw that.”