Zach Terrell's favorite part of NFL pre-draft scrutiny is the up-close-and-personal time with scouts and coaches.
That's when the tale of the tape gets supplemented by the tales of Terrell. And by tales, I mean insight into his knowledge of the game and the understanding that separates quarterbacks looking for one of those limited NFL roster spots.
“When I meet with teams one-on-one, and throw and talk with them, that's when I can show them my intangibles,” Terrell said. “Football IQ you can't see just watching film. That's my favorite part. The more of those I've been able to do and the more I continue to do will be better for me and my chances.”
Terrell, the former Homestead High School standout, had a great career as quarterback at Western Michigan University. He led the Broncos to an undefeated regular season last fall and a berth in the Cotton Bowl, where they lost to Wisconsin. Since that time, he's spent two months working with noted quarterback coach Terry Shea.
Terrell has one of the best Pro Days of any recent quarterback on March 15 at Western Michigan, completing 50-of-51 passes. Shea told reporters it was one of the best Pro Days he had seen, reminiscent of a tremendous performance by Sam Bradford coming out of college.
The performance was especially satisfying since Terrell was not invited to participate in the NFL Combine, despite an incredible senior year where he completed 70 percent of his passes for 3,533 yards, 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He won the Campbell Trophy, known as the “Academic Heisman.”
“I've heard a couple different scouts say that 80 percent of the evaluation is done off tape (of college performance), and the other 20 percent is Pro Day, all-star games and things like that,” Terrell said. “In terms of that other 20 percent, I think I've been able to help myself.”
Terrell prefers not to list the NFL teams he has worked out individually for, but said 24 teams had representatives at the Western Michigan Pro Day. Many of those scouts were on hand because of receiver Corey Davis, who didn't participate due to an ankle injury.
Terrell caught some of that attention, and it led to other individual workouts.
“A lot of guys put that out there, but I kind of don't kiss and tell (about workouts),” Terrell said. “I'm the type of guy who is enjoying the process and I believe the right team will find me and I'll find the right team. God has a plan in that sense. I'm controlling what I can control, and that's my effort each and every day.”
Terrell continues to work out at Western Michigan, but he points to his time spent with Shea as invaluable.
Shea has worked with many quarterbacks before they reached the NFL, including Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford and Robert Griffin III.
“For me, somebody who's thirsty for knowledge, I tried to soak up as much as possible and it was tremendous for me,” Terrell said. “In the short two months I was with him, I saw my game excel fundamentally, in quarterback IQ, in speed. I can't say enough about Coach Shea and how he operates and the kind of man he is. I try to surround myself with people I want to be like, who have strong character.”
Terrell learned from working with Shea how much room he still has in his game for growth.
“There's always room for improvement, there's always a way to get better,” Terrell said. “That's the exciting thing. The sport never gets boring, you're constantly improving and learning as a player. I love the game of football. It stretches you physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. It makes you a better person.”
Terrell said he has also gained insight from former Mid-American Conference quarterbacks Tim Hiller, who played at Western Michigan, and Chandler Harnish, the former Norwell High School standout who excelled at Northern Illinois.
Hiller spent part of the 2010 training camp with the Indianapolis Colts, and Harnish was drafted by the Colts in 2012. Harnish spent two seasons with the Colts, primarily on the practice squad, was active one game with the Minnesota Vikings and went to training camp with the Arizona Cardinals before stepping away from football in 2015.
“Those two guys, I've tried to see what they've done and how they took their career to the next level,” Terrell said. “Also, the type of people they are, they're the type of people I would want to mold my life after.”
Terrell has done almost everything he can do to gain and sustain the attention of NFL scouts.
As the draft approaches on April 27, it will be a waiting game to see if he gets drafted or signed as a free agent and gets the opportunity to show what he can do.
“Most of us at this point can throw the ball, that's something God has given us,” Terrell said. “The different intangibles are what make you different, what separates the good from the great.
“This is the toughest interview process you can go through,” he said. “I didn't realize how many guys every year are trying to get into this league. There are a lot of tremendous players. That's something that motivates me even more. I've always enjoyed the competitive aspect of everything. I'm looking forward to an opportunity to compete.”
The team that lets this young quarterback in the door will find it hard to let him leave.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at email@example.com.
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