DT James Terry relishing increased role

November, 7, 2012
11/07/12
3:56
PM ET
For five years, defensive tackle James Terry has stood on the sidelines and watched.

[+] EnlargeJordan Hill
MCT/ZUMA Press/Icon SMIWith Jordan Hill (above) out due to injury, James Terry will get an expanded role.
He saw Devon Still wreak havoc in opposing backfields and then become an NFL starter. He looked on as Jared Odrick earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors, and he saw Ollie Ogbu sign with Indianapolis.

In half-a-decade and 38 career games, he's seen six defenders leap ahead of him on the depth chart. And he's competed in just one token start, where he stood on Beaver Stadium's turf for 24 snaps.

But, this week, Terry realizes he could finally get his chance. This weekend, he could be the starter. And, with Jordan Hill's sprained left knee, it won't simply be to see his name first on the depth chart.

"I don't really think I got frustrated at all," he said about his role Wednesday. "I've been waiting for my chance. And whenever my number got called, I was going to be ready to go.

"I don't really think of it as getting a shot. I just think of it as this is my time to step up and do my thing."

Terry often stared across the field the last five years, trying to break down live play as if it were film. He said he'd try to pick up nuances from Hill and Still, adding them to his own repertoire.

He didn't know when his jersey number -- 93 -- might be called. The Delaware native just tried to be ready. And, Saturday, when Hill writhed in pain on the 40-yard line, that time came.

Terry's role instantly evolved from a spectator, a situational player, to an athlete now practicing with the first-team.

"I've gone against him my whole career, and he's kind of always been the backup to Jordan Hill," fifth-year senior Matt Stankiewitch said. "And with Hill going day-to-day, I go against Terry a lot. He's a very strong individual and has a very strong bull-rush."

Terry, a 316-pound grad student, dispelled any notion of nerves. He's been on this team since 2008, when some current freshmen were first graduating from the jayvee team. He said he's never seen more than 45 snaps -- and he seemed more eager Wednesday than fearful.

Come Saturday, he expected to see at least 50 plays. And he can't wait to show what he can do with some extra playing time.

"Getting a more extended role, I think people will see the kind of player I am," he said.

Instead of standing on the sideline Saturday, Terry will have to do most of his watching with one hand in the dirt. He's seen Abe Koroma and DaQuan Jones, along with four other DTs, ahead of him on the depth chart.

But, after five seasons, he's finally through watching as the backup.

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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