- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 30, 2000

The pain of heading home as a rookie, the experience of NFL Europe and the perspective of the practice squad all led to several notebooks for Washington Redskins defensive back David Terrell.
Two of them, to be exact. Scrawled cover-to-cover with information.
Those notebooks represent Terrell's newfound dedication to studying. After being cut from the Redskins during the 1998 and '99 preseasons, when he took a grand total of "five" pages of notes, he made his third try a charm, landing on Washington's final roster and is expected to be a major contributor to special teams.
As such, Terrell can help answer the most pressing question of the $100 million Redskins, who open their highly anticipated season Sunday against Carolina. Special teams coach LeCharls McDaniel is confident Terrell can meet his new challenges, calling the 25-year-old "a testament to hard work and persistence."
"No doubt [getting cut twice] inspired me to go even harder and pay more attention to little things, watch more film," Terrell said this week. "Hanging around on the practice squad [in 1999], I saw how guys prepared for games. I took the way they prepare for games to prepare for practice."
That meant taking notes, something Terrell took for granted his first two years.
"I really thought I could retain [the information] in my mind," Terrell said. "But when you write it down, it really sticks with you, whether you memorize it or not."
Terrell's notes not to mention his previous appearances in Redskins training camp helped him quickly grasp the varied responsibilities the club hoped he would learn.
The Redskins now play Terrell on four special teams (punt coverage and return, kickoff coverage and return), and as a reserve cornerback and safety. Terrell's most high-profile role comes on punt coverage, where he plays the seek-and-destroy wing position.
"I really wanted to show them I could play special teams," Terrell said. "I hit the weight room harder than I ever did [this summer]. I came in my first year probably weighing about 175, but this year I came in weighing 190, and this is the most I've weighed ever."
Terrell believes the extra weight hasn't affected his speed. His performance in the final two preseason games supported that premise, as he made three special-teams tackles and seven tackles on regular defensive plays. Such success combined with his visible dedication this summer made him a popular choice to make the team.
"I was here during the offseason, and I watched David come in and work," starting strong safety Sam Shade said. "He worked hard each and every day, in every phase. And they asked him to do a lot this year play some corner, play some safety, special teams. A guy like that, you can't help but pull for him."
Terrell's success might have come sooner if he hadn't missed his senior season at Texas-El Paso, where a switch of majors (from sociology to criminal justice) and some confusion over eligibility requirements left him academically sidelined.
Terrell had been named second-team all-conference his junior year, at which point a Miners assistant coach told him he could work into the top half of the draft with a strong senior season. Instead, Terrell ended up a seventh-round pick by the Redskins.
Terrell's first bid to make the NFL was hampered by a hamstring strain during camp. He went home to Texas after being cut, and worked in a childrens' detention center.
The following spring, Terrell played in NFL Europe, where his special-teams success motivated him for another shot at the Redskins. Although he was edged out again, he was named to the practice squad, where he watched his teammates' study habits and began filling up his own notebooks.
Terrell now believes his love of the game allowed him to reach this point. He remains determined to make it in professional football, whether it's with the Redskins, with another NFL team, or even in the Canadian Football League or Arena League.
"If [my opportunity] was at this level, or any other level to tell you the truth, I would have tried to take advantage of it," Terrell said. "I think I would have made [football] a secondary job or hobby or something to do. I just enjoy playing the game."
Note Defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson has become the official spokesman for the American Diabetes Association's African American Program. Both of Wilkinson's parents died after battles with diabetes and heart disease, and his brother and sister both have diabetes. Said Wilkinson, who does not have diabetes: "For some time, diabetes has been a silent killer in my family. I think I can help."

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