Cal Football: Freshman TE Jermaine Terry Ready to Soak in Coaches' NFL Experience

Talented Local Prospect Has Lots of Talent and Lots to Learn
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Freshman tight end Jermaine Terry feels like he struck it rich with the Cal coaching staff.

The feeling is mutual.

Terry, a consensus 4-star recruit out of Kennedy High in nearby Richmond, says he chose Cal over a long list of elite-level programs in large part because of the offensive coordinator.

“To be honest, Bill Musgrave is one of the biggest reasons I came to Cal just because of his offense, his mind. He’s a genius,” Terry said in the video below. “He really loves and knows how to use a tight end.

Joining the offensive staff a couple weeks back was tight ends coach Geep Chryst, whose background mirrors that of Musgrave, heavily rooted in the NFL.

“Coach Chryst is a great guy — he’s got some great energy and enthusiasm. I love him so far and can’t wait to keep building that relationship,” Terry said.” All the NFL knowledge is just a blessing and I’m truly thankful for the position I’m in.”

Musgrave, beginning his second season as OC and quarterbacks coach for the Bears, spent 20 seasons working in the NFL, 13 of them as a coordinator. Chryst has 25 years of professional coaching on his resume, including a stint with the Denver Broncos where he worked alongside Musgrave.

“Those dudes have a wide range of knowledge — that’s really what I’m thankful for. Being able to be around somebody who knows what it’s supposed to look like really helps my game,” Terry said.

A two-way player at Kennedy, the 6-foot-4, 268-pounder chose the Bears over the likes of Alabama and Ohio State.

“He wanted to be a mid-year enrollee so he’s hitting the ground running,” Chryst said. “I feel bad for this kids not experiencing their senior year. But he’s got a lot of effort and hustle. He does weigh 268 pounds — that’s a big youngster.”

Chryst is working with seven tight ends, so Terry doesn’t merely walk onto the field and secure a starting job. But he has attributes that will translate nicely to the college game.

“For that weight, he does move well,” Chryst said. “We joke that he’s got heavy hands, which means that when he does punch you he’s got a little gun powder behind the punch. And he’s got a joy about playing right now where he’s young and enthusiastic. That goes a long way in spring ball.”

Cal coach Justin Wilcox likes what he sees.

“He can catch the ball. He’s got a ton of tools and we’re just going to continue to push him,” Wilcox said. “He’s had a great attitude so far and he’s really eager to learn more and more about football and what it takes to be a tight end.”

Because the fall high school football season in California was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Terry hadn’t been on the practice field for more than a year when Cal’s spring practice began a week ago Wednesday.

He was thrilled to be on the field.

“It’s great to get back into that football mode,” he said.

It wasn’t just football he missed. Terry said he hasn’t actually been in a classroom for more than a year. “I’d be happy to be in one now. I never thought I’d say that,” added Terry, who has continued to take remote classes since enrolling at Cal after the holiday break.

Terry is downright giddy about the whole process.

“It’s a dream come true. Just another step on the journey and I’m just grateful to be here. It’s really all a blessing,” he said. I‘m just trying to work to get to where I need to be.”

Wilcox knows the first weeks of practice can be challenging for all freshmen. Because the Bears have so many experienced players, they are not slowly the process of installing new aspects of the offense or defense.

“He’s learning a lot at a rapid pace,” Wilcox said. “It’s like drinking from a fire hose for a lot of these youngsters.”

To ease the burden, Chryst said Terry is learning strictly the responsibilities of playing tight end on the line of scrimmage, while older players also are training at other spots, such as H back.

Chryst also credited the veteran tight ends for taking Terry under their wing and giving him hands-on help. Terry recognizes and appreciates what they are doing for him.

“I’ve really got to thank the two starting tight ends, Jake Tonges and Collin Moore. They’ve really helped. Being a young guy, the NFL playbook is not the easiest thing to get down,” he said. “But Geep Chryst has been hands-on to help me — extra film, anything he can do to help me feel comfortable.”

Asked what his goals for the 2021 season are, Terry said he’ll be ready for whatever he’s asked to do, including special teams.

“I’m just trying to contribute any way I can and to have fun. Those are my two goals,” he said. “Whatever that may be, I’m glad where I end up but right now trying to contribute and get better.”

After just Terry’s fifth college practice Wednesday, Musgrave said it’s too early to know where he will fit into things next fall.

“He’s battling defensive ends and outside linebackers in the run game and then running good routes in the passing game,” Musgrave said. “It’s hard to predict what his role will be but he’s getting better each and every day, and obviously has a lot of ability so we’re glad to have him.”

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo