Some things in life aren‚Äôt fair. Perhaps throwing an interception against Clemson would fall on that list, or sputtering at the end of a football game against Pittsburgh . Or even losing a starting job on the gridiron. For most college football quarterbacks, that might rattle their spirits. But not Terrel Hunt. Not for the redshirt sophomore. All that? That‚Äôs nothing.
‚ÄúJerome [Smith] said to me one time, when I lost the starting QB position, I was like, ‚Äòman, this isn‚Äôt fair.‚Äô And he said, ‚Äòman, life ain‚Äôt fair. You lost both your parents, and that‚Äôs not fair. But you know what, you kept moving.‚Äô Hearing that, it made me think, what am I talking about? How can I say it isn‚Äôt fair, when I‚Äôve been through tougher times, and been to hell and back.‚Äù
The New York City native has been through more than any other 20-year-old kid is supposed to. Forget about the few troubles he had on the football field this past fall. Hunt lost both his parents, Katrina and Daryl‚Äîin one calendar year‚Äîbefore he even enrolled at Syracuse. One interception may have Orange Nation up in arms. But not Terrel. He‚Äôs one of the most mentally tough individuals you‚Äôll run into.
Despite the troubles in high school, he still was able to focus on football and make it to the Salt City. After a redshirt season, and another where he held the clipboard for Ryan Nassib, Hunt finally had the chance to be a starter. It didn‚Äôt work out with¬†Drew Allen back in September. In steps the Queens product. Granted, 2013 was filled with a lot of ups and downs. But the Orange wouldn‚Äôt have gone anywhere without Hunt‚Äôs toughness and his leadership, which gradually increased each¬†Saturday¬†this fall.¬†
‚ÄúIn the begging of the season, I was kind of playing the back role, you know playing the back seat, and just letting other guys talk and telling the receivers it‚Äôs ok if you drop a pass. Now, I‚Äôm the one yelling at them, Coach [George] McDonald doesn‚Äôt even have to yell. I‚Äôll say, ‚Äòhey, you can‚Äôt drop that, we need that.‚Äô‚Äù
This team had no problem respecting him as he transformed into a leader. He‚Äôs a city guy. He‚Äôs tough, but knows how interact with his teammates the right way. How about Jeremiah Kobena, the Harlem native who helped console Terrel after he threw a pick against Boston College with just a couple minutes left before he¬†drove down the field and won the game? Or what about Alvin Cornelius, the Staten Island product who caught nine passes from Terrel in just two games? He had his teammates backs, and they had his. Hey, that‚Äôs how this whole business works.
The¬†2013 Syracuse Orange football squad¬†wanted to play for Terrel Hunt. ¬†And that was present on and off the field, Jerome Smith told the Fizz.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a relentless competitor. He‚Äôll come to my house right after we get out of practice and want to play video games. I‚Äôll beat him, and he‚Äôll go, ‚Äòno, let‚Äôs pick another team.‚Äô I‚Äôll be like, come on, T. He competes with everything. And you need that type of guy leading your program. He‚Äôs done the best job of being a leader.‚Äù
But Hunt‚Äôs a young guy. Just 20 years old. Was he ready to lead a Division I football program to a bowl game? Smith remembered a time just a couple months ago when the team finally realized the redshirt sophomore meant business. They had to follow him, or pay the price.
‚ÄúOne day, we were conditioning after practice. We were finishing and Terrel says, we‚Äôre going to do some more [sprints]. Basically he made everyone hold their water, and the O-Line looked around, they didn‚Äôt like it. And then Terrel goes, ‚Äòhey, we‚Äôre going to do as I say!‚Äô When you got a leader like that, who‚Äôs willing to step up to 6‚Äô5‚Äù 300 pound guys, you got a good leader.‚Äù
As the season progressed Hunt looked better and better. His first three conference games, he had a 43 percent completion percentage and averaged only 65 passing yards per game. But the final six games of the year, including his impressive two-touchdown game against Minnesota in the Texas Bowl, Hunt completed the ball at a rate of 64 percent, averaged over 160 pass yards per game and accumulated 7 total TDs. Why the success? His quarterbacks coach Tim Lester said to the Fizz it was due to his improved anticipation.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs the hardest thing to learn. Like I expected, in the beginning he was below average at it. But last game, he did a really, really good job. He threw the ball on time. I was texting with him late at night [after the Boston College game], I asked him what he thought he did best today, and I thought he was going to say something about the last drive, but he said, ‚ÄòI actually anticipated my throws.‚Äô Soon, he‚Äôll learn to do that all the time.‚Äù
Hunt certainly agrees that his improved play on the field down the stretch of the season was due to a rise in confidence.
‚ÄúI think it just comes with feeling more comfortable and just giving [your teammates] an extra push. I‚Äôm not playing the back seat anymore because a quarterback never should play the back seat, you can‚Äôt have anybody else lead your show.‚Äù
Forget about all the noise and rumors surrounding Syracuse‚Äôs quarterback situation next year. Terrel Hunt¬†should be Syracuse‚Äôs starting quarterback in 2014. He showed poise all year long, and delivered when necessary. As a first-year QB, he went 7-4. Does he deserve another chance? That sounds pretty fair to me. Because once you become a leader, you never forget how to deliver.
Posted by: Kevin Fitzgerald¬†