College Sports

Les Miles predicts this 330-pound freshman will give headaches to KU’s opponents

Kansas defensive lineman Sam Burt, following his last interview request, began to get up from his table at the football team’s annual media day.

He didn’t leave, though, without telling freshman teammate DaJon Terry next to him that he was about to head out.

“Love ya, man,” Burt said.

“All right, bro. Love you too, bro,” Terry responded.

The exchange was short — only a few seconds — but Terry later said it was a good example of why he chose to become a Jayhawk in the first place.

“I didn’t want to go anywhere where I wasn’t treated like family,” Terry said. “When I came up here, I fell in love ... everything I ever wanted. That’s why I committed.”

The 6-4, 330-pound defensive tackle certainly hasn’t lost any admiration from KU’s coaches since arriving on campus this summer.

Terry has been singled out twice as a standout by coach Les Miles, and he should be in line for immediate playing time when KU opens its season against Indiana State on Aug. 31.

“He’s going to take centers every week,” Miles said of Terry, “and give them headaches.”

His signing was an important one for KU in the winter.

At the time, Terry provided an opportunity for the team to fill an immediate need, as the Jayhawks lost three contributing defensive tackles in Daniel Wise, KeyShaun Simmons and J.J. Holmes to graduation.

Terry, though, said the potential for immediate playing time wasn’t the main draw to KU.

“Honestly, anywhere you go, you’re going to have to work for it. Nothing comes easy,” Terry said. “Anywhere you go, you’re going to have to put all you can to it.”

Instead, what led him to Lawrence was the way he felt on his December visit. The experience resulted in him committing to the Jayhawks over Christmas break.

“Here it was different. It was like the love was genuine,” Terry said. “They really loved and cared for the person you are.”

Conditioning is likely to be a main challenge moving forward. Though Terry said he’s around 330 now — he was originally listed at 345 on KU’s roster — his main focus has been maintaining a weight where he can stay agile.

“It’s wherever I feel comfortable,” Terry said. “I’m feeling good right now, but I know if I drop some more, I’ll be feeling even better.”

Terry, from Meridian, Mississippi, is likely to be part of a defensive front seven that is mostly untested. The Jayhawks are replacing six of their seven defensive starters there, with only nickelback/”Hawk” Bryce Torneden returning from a year ago.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” KU defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said of the team’s front-seven transition. “Those guys have never played college football, so the first game is going to be an experience for them. But they don’t lack confidence, that’s for sure. And that’s been a good thing.”

Terry — included by Eliot in that bunch — says his impression of the program hasn’t changed since his arrival. Veterans like Burt have helped when necessary, which has allowed him speed up his progression in preseason camp.

“We’re all one. That’s how I can put it,” Terry said. “We all move as one unit.”

The defensive linemen also remain unafraid to talk openly about their fondness for each other.

Terry remains thankful for that as well.

“You see how Sam Burt just said he loved me? And I told him I loved him back? We do that,” Terry said with a smile. “We tell each other we love them because we actually do.”

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.