Defensive tackle James Terry gets his chance to start for Penn State

Defensive tackle Jordan Hill (right) suffered a knee injury last week against Purdue and is listedas day-to-day. James Terry of New Castle, Del., will start in his place.
Defensive tackle Jordan Hill (right) suffered a knee injury last week against Purdue and is listedas day-to-day. James Terry of New Castle, Del., will start in his place. (ABBY DREY / Centre Daily Times)
Posted: November 08, 2012

James Terry is a fifth-year senior at Penn State who seems to have been around forever, a defensive tackle who has played behind high NFL draft choices Jared Odrick and Devon Still and has backed up another star in the making, Jordan Hill, this season.

But with Hill questionable for Saturday's game at Nebraska because of a knee injury, Terry will be called upon to make just the second start of his career in one of the toughest venues for a visiting team, Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

The 6-foot-3, 316-pound native of New Castle, Del., a former Brandywine High School star, is not fazed by the assignment, however.

"I don't think it's a big problem at all," Terry said Wednesday. "I'm looking forward to it. I've always wanted to go out there and try to run as many plays as I could so I could contribute to the team. If I do more, I feel I'll have a more positive feeling about myself. I want to help out the team as much as I can."

Hill, an all-Big Ten candidate, suffered a sprained left knee during Saturday's win over Purdue. A team spokesman said that there was no damage to the anterior cruciate ligament and that the senior's status is day-to-day.

Terry, who backs up both Hill and junior DaQuan Jones at tackle, will slide into Hill's spot and sophomore Kyle Baublitz will be in Terry's dual backup position. Redshirt freshman Anthony Zettel will move over from defensive end to provide depth.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien has been pleased with the overall depth that his team has developed this season and likes the way backup players have stepped up when the starters need a rest. He likes the work done by Terry and Baublitz.

"They're guys that don't start but they play," he said. "When they go in there, they play hard and they do what they're supposed to do. The play their assignment as best they can. They accept their role. They try to excel in their role and they've made plays for us this year.

"James Terry had a couple of big plays in the Purdue game and had a sack in the red area. Kyle, when he has gone in there, has played hard, too, and he's a tough guy, a great kid to be around."

Terry, whose only other start came in 2010 against Indiana, said the adjustment he must make as a starter is having to mentally be into the game right away. Instead of getting a chance to observe from the sideline, he has to be ready to go on the first snap.

He is trying to adapt to that mentality in practice this week.

"Having to go first on every drill, that's a different thing," he said. "Before I would get a chance to sit back and watch and get a mental feel for practice before I would go in. But now I'm being thrust in to go out right away. It's a little different. The speed is a little different. I'm picking that up and I'm preparing more before the play."

"I'm more of a power player," Terry added. "I'm really aggressive and try to stay aggressive in everything I do. I'm not really a finesse type of guy. I come out and use more power."

Terry is happy for Baublitz, who saw his most time of the season after Hill was hurt last week.

"Kyle has a high motor," he said. "He works really hard every day. He practices hard. Now he'll have a more extended role and he'll go out there and show what he can do. I think he's a very good player."

Terry is excited about the opportunity, but he doesn't look at it as finally getting his chance.

"I wouldn't think of it as not getting a shot before," he said. "I'm thinking of it more as a time for me to step up and do my thing."

Contact Joe Juliano at or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq

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