When Tramel Terry puts pen to paper this morning to finalize his commitment to play football at the University of Georgia, it will mark the end of an exhausting and sometimes agonizing four-year journey for the Goose Creek wide receiver/running back.
Terry will hold a “signing” ceremony this morning at Goose Creek High School and will enroll at Georgia and take his first class next month.
There was a time when Terry wondered if he'd ever make it to this day. Terry, who is one of the candidates for the state's Mr. Football award, which will be announced later today, has been one of the most highly recruited players in the state for the past two years and it hasn't always been easy on the multi-talented star.
All the attention, the constant questions and speculation by people who didn't know him or had other agendas, was more than Terry could take at times this season.
“I'd be lying if I said it didn't get to me,” Terry said. “As the season went no, it kind of wore me down.”
Terry first popped onto the national recruiting scene as a freshman on a Goose Creek team that advanced to the Class AAAA Division-II Lower State finals. He was a starter on a talented team and turned in a spectacular 80-yard run in an overtime loss to Berkeley in the Lower State finals. Early in his freshman season, Goose Creek head coach Chuck Reedy sent out a DVD with highlights of Terry to several colleges, including South Carolina, Clemson and Georgia. Gamecocks assistant coach Steve
Early in his freshman season, Goose Creek head coach Chuck Reedy sent out a DVD with highlights of Terry to several colleges, including South Carolina, Clemson and Georgia. Gamecocks assistant coach Steve Spurrier, Jr., called Reedy and offered Terry a scholarship a few days later.
The following spring, Terry ran a 4.37 40-yard dash during a workout and Clemson assistant coach Dan Brooks, who was on hand for the practice, offered Terry a scholarship on the spot.
“I couldn't believe it,” Terry said. “I was happy I had run that fast, but then to have Clemson offer me on that same day was unbelievable.”
Terry loved the attention that recruiting brought. The phone calls, text and Facebook messages from college football's top coaches were a thrill at first.
“I loved it, who wouldn't?” Terry said. “Everyone was telling me how great I was. It's hard not to get caught up in it a little bit.”
Terry had an excellent sophomore season and the scholarship offers began to pour in from all over the country. Every assistant college coach wanted to talk to him. The recruiting websites wanted to find out where he was “leaning.”
It was during the summer before his junior season that recruiting started to become a burden. The constant questions from family, friends, classmates and complete strangers were never ending. Over the last two years, Terry figures he was asked the same question a dozen times a day — “Where are you going to school?”
It became tiresome and the normally easy-going Terry had had enough. He wanted it to stop. He wanted to shut it down.
“At one point, I wished I had only one school that offered me and I could just go to that school,” Terry said. “If someone called me and I didn't recognize the number, I wouldn't answer it.”
Terry did something about it in July of 2011 when he verbally committed to Georgia at the Bulldogs' football camp.
“I just wanted it to be over with,” Terry said. “I wanted all the questions to stop, the phone calls, the text messages, everything. I just wanted it to end.”
It had just the opposite effect. If anything, the buzz surrounding Terry only increased along with the questions.
It made Terry question his decision. Early in his junior season, he decommitted from Georgia and opened the process back up .
“I think he rushed into it the first time,” Reedy said. “He didn't sit down and really think about it.”
Reedy had been through this before. He had first-hand knowledge of the kind of pressure an 18-year-old kid can come under during the recruiting process.
As a former head coach at Baylor and an assistant coach at both South Carolina and Clemson, Reedy has seen both sides of recruiting.
In 1979, during Reedy's first season with Clemson under coach Danny Ford, he was tasked with the duty of trying to lure running back Herschel Walker to Clemson.
“It was an absolute circus with Herschel,” Reedy said. “He was being recruited by every school in the country. By the middle of his senior season, you could tell he was getting tired of the whole process. I think something similar happened to Tramel.”
A second look
Terry took his time during his junior year and took a second look at all the schools he was interested in. He went to games, talked to coaches, professors and players on all the teams. He did his due diligence.
He made up his mind this past spring and reaffirmed his commitment to Georgia.
“I thought I was sure this time,” Terry said. “I did my homework. I felt good about my decision.”
It was finally over. Only it wasn't.
Terry and Clemson assistant coach Tony Elliott, who played for the Tigers and James Island High School, had become close during the recruiting process.
“I know that coach Elliott had my back, he would have taken care of me,” Terry said. “We just clicked. If he wasn't at Clemson, they probably wouldn't have been in the picture.”
Terry went to a few Clemson games this fall. Speculation began to grow that Terry was not a firm commitment to Georgia, that the Tigers and Elliott had “turned” him to Clemson.
“This was my first real decision as a man and I didn't want to end up going to the wrong place,” Terry said. “I'd go to bed some nights knowing I'd done the right thing committing to Georgia and wake up and want to sign with Clemson. That's how close it was.”
Terry was torn
The media and recruiting websites didn't help matters. He was bombarded by phone calls from the media and recruiting websites. In October, he made the decision to stop talking to the media about recruiting. If the media wanted to talk about football and the Gators, fine. But recruiting was off limits.
“The media wanted to keep me in the spotlight and I was tired of talking about recruiting,” Terry said.
After weighing all the pros and cons about Georgia and Clemson, Terry said he finally listened to his heart. He called Georgia this past weekend to tell them that he'd be a Bulldog and afterward phoned Elliott to tell him the bad news.
“When they lost to South Carolina, it hurt me,” Terry said. “When they lost to Alabama, it physically hurt me. I knew then that Georgia was the right place.
“The call to Clemson was tough. It was one of the hardest calls I've ever had to make, but I felt like I owed it to them.”
A huge relief swept over Terry. The tension was gone. The easy smile returned. He was finally content.
“It's over, it's done,” Terry said. “I know in my heart I've made the right decision.”
University of Georgia commitment Tramel Terry rushes for a first down for Goose Creek during the game between Goose Creek High School at Dutch Fork High School.×
Goose Creek's Tramel Terry brings down a catch over the Wando defense in the teams' match up Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 in Mount Pleasant. (Tyrone Walker/postandcourier.com)×
Goose Creek’s Tramel Terry runs the ball against Cane Bay Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 at Goose Creek High School in Goose Creek.×