There were times, last year, when Kansas University safety Keeston Terry couldn’t help but feel robbed by the way his freshman season played out.
Terry was one of the few true freshman on the KU roster to hit the field in 2010, playing meaningful snaps in each of the first three games before an lower-leg injury, suffered against Southern Miss, cost him the rest of his freshman season.
“It was tough at first,” Terry said during a recent interview with the Journal-World. “Definitely. Going through the rest of the season was hard. I had the opportunity to step in and start because we had so many injuries at (safety).”
Regardless of his statistics, whether it was the one-tackle effort he delivered in a half against Southern Miss or the five-tackle, one forced-fumble monster game he had against Georgia Tech, Terry showed enough natural ability to lead people to think that his playing time would increase. That was the reason KU coach Turner Gill gave him a chance in the first place.
“We just thought he would give us a little bit more speed and that he was somebody that would want to have a chance to play,” Gill said at the time.
But that opportunity never came and Terry, a four-star receiver out of Blue Springs (Mo.) High who was moved to defense in August, was forced to watch from the sideline as the Jayhawks limped their way to a 3-9 season.
Rather than feeling sorry for himself and whining about the hand he was dealt, Terry found a way to get something out of his first season in Lawrence. The son of former NFL safety Doug Terry took to the mental side of the game, soaking up as much information as he could about coverages and schemes, receivers and quarterbacks, wins and losses. With spring ball set to begin Friday, Terry, a year older and wiser, is starting to realize that last year’s tough times actually helped him grow.
“I think it was kind of good for me to sit back and kind of just learn some more for next year, so I’ll be a little more prepared,” Terry said. “When I first came in to play defense, it was a really fast switch and I had to pick up on things real quick.”
Kansas officials said this winter that they were in the process of gathering information so Terry could apply for a medical hardship with the NCAA. If granted, which has been the case with nearly all cases like Terry’s throughout the years, Terry would receive his year back and would enter 2011 with four years of eligibility remaining and a three-game head start.
KU sports information director Mike Strauss said it could take as long as two or three years to get a ruling from the NCAA. But Terry’s not worried about that. His focus is on 2011 and doing his part to help the Jayhawks improve.
“I have some game-time experience and stuff and that’s definitely gonna help out once I get back on the field,” Terry said. “I showed a little of what I could do last year, and hopefully this coming year, I’ll be able to show a lot more and give people what they expect of me.”
Though the injury — which he reaggravated in practice while preparing to return the week of the Kansas State game — kept him sidelined last season, Terry said it was more of a precautionary measure than anything else.
“It wasn’t a terrible injury,” he said. “It just took a while to heal.”
While some guys struggle to stay in shape while healing, Terry has had no trouble with that. Thanks to a more rigorous offseason strength and conditioning program, he actually bulked up in the past few months.
“I put about 10 pounds on,” he said. “I’m about 195. I’m hoping to be at 200 when the season starts and hoping to be about 220 by the end of my career.”
While adding muscle and weight has been one focus for Terry and his teammates, atoning for the results of the 2010 season has been his driving force.
“Most definitely. Last year we lacked that mentality of ‘We’re gonna get it done this week,’” Terry said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll have that mentality this year, and we’ll have a chance to win a lot more games.”