The path to earning 2012 Times-Georgian All-Area Newcomer of the Year honors started with Terrell playing with the Carrollton Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department's teams, and being just a little too good. From there, the always-elusive back has played up a level preparing himself for the breakout year.
“He’s always been ahead of schedule. When he was in sixth grade going into the seventh grade, the rec coaches came to me and said as an 11-year-old he messed up the 11-and-12-year old league because nobody could tackle him. They said they knew I normally just played eighth-graders on my eighth grade team, but could I please pull him up so they could compete on that level,” Carrollton coach Rayvan Teague recalls.
It didn’t take long for Terrell to prove his worth.
While in seventh grade, Terrell averaged six carries and four touchdowns a game playing with eighth-graders. Then, while in eighth grade playing for the ninth-grade team, the touches increased to nine, but the touchdowns stayed steady at four per game.
With a player like that waiting in the wings, it wasn’t a hard call for Teague and his staff to throw the freshman into the varsity fire immediately.
“It was a no-brainer for us to bring him up [to varsity] this year. That’s what our plans were all along. That’s why we wanted to keep playing him in an advanced level. Then as the season progressed, he got more and more comfortable with it,” Teague said.
Even though he had played up a year for the previous two seasons, playing against seniors was a different story. Terrell definitely noticed a difference.
“Everything is a whole lot faster. I used to just run past people, but now people are on me,” Terrell said. “It’s amazing. It’s hard to believe, really, to know that a freshman can do that around all those seniors. I really felt good about myself being able to do that.”
The last person to expect the breakout season? Terrell himself, actually.
“It was amazing. I never thought I could do it, but people kept telling me [I could]. I kept working out real hard to get stronger and faster. After I started practicing with them, it just felt like regular football,” Terrell said.
Terrell averaged 11.4 yards a carry in 11 games this season, gaining 695 yards on 61 carries with eight touchdowns. The freshman added two receptions for 28 yards and seven kickoff returns for a 15.1-yard average and an 83-yard return for a touchdown.
All year, Terrell had been impressive, but his breakout game came in the regular-season finale against LaGrange. In the game that would end up clinching the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AAAA and home field for the first round of the playoffs, Terrell had touchdown runs of 77 and 90 yards where he went almost untouched. For the game, he had 240 yards on nine carries with the two scores. Carrollton would win, 41-14.
But just two weeks after the breakout game, Terrell was unable to go for the Trojans’ five-overtime loss at Marist in the second round of the playoffs because of the flu.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t get to play in that playoff game against Marist because he had really started to explode. I really think the sky’s the limit for him in years to come,” Teague said.
But for this year — that one hurt.
“It hurt. It hurt real bad to know that they went into five overtimes and they could have won it. It hurt real bad,” Terrell said.
Terrell won’t necessarily stand out in pre-game warmups in his No. 2 jersey, but once he gets the ball, he plays at another level.
“There’s no substitute for speed, but Jarvis is unusual. He not only has great speed, but he’s strong, he has really good vision and he just has a knack for being able to run the football,” Teague said. “He’s had that all along. When I saw him in rec ball, he just had that ability to see the field and make the cuts and, obviously, unbelievable speed.”
As the season went on, Terrell hardly was a secret. But even though teams could plan for him, they still couldn’t stop him. Terrell took 55 yards on the first drive of Carrollton’s first-round win against Stephens County.
“Watching me on film, knowing that I am doing good in our games and knowing that the teams we were playing the next Friday are watching me, too, felt like I did something great. I knew I gave them something to worry about,” Terrell said.
What might be the best thing about Terrell’s 2012 season is that he still has three left donning the Black and Gold.
“I’m real excited. I’m looking forward to [the next three years] a lot,” Terrell said. It was a big experience — a great experience, really. I know I can play with older kids, know that they have my back and I have their back. They can depend on me and I can depend on them any time.”
The best is yet to come for Terrell, and that could be a bad thing for opponents over the next few years — and the Carrollton record books.
“As a coach, when you see talent, you want to seize it and we saw it coming. We tried to put a plan in place to take advantage of it as soon as possible,” Teague said. “He’s got an opportunity to really go down in the books here as one of the best ones we’ve had. I think he’s a phenomenal talent, and we’re definitely excited about the future.”