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Who is new Seahawks starting free safety Steven Terrell?

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What can I tell you about Steven Terrell that you don’t already know?

Star of such films as Invasion of the Saucer-Men, Tea and Sympathy, and Dragstrip Girl, as well as recurring on the long-running series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Terrell is nearing 90 and has three children with his wife Else. These are facts that we all know ... But that’s not the Steven Terrell you are interested in, probably. Maybe. I was.

Steven Terrell of the Seattle Seahawks is a 26-year-old safety who has yet to play more than a handful of snaps that haven’t come on special teams. He went undrafted in 2013 and is part of the “Aggie Hawks,” a group of players on the Seahawks who went to Texas A&M, as well as Michael Bennett, Germain Ifedi, and formerly guys like Christine Michael and Patrick Lewis. (Among others, I know.) Going into Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Terrell had three tackles in his entire career. But in the third quarter when safety Earl Thomas was injured and left with a hamstring issue, Terrell got the first action of his career at free safety, notching four tackles.

Thomas will now be out for 10-14 days from the time of injury, meaning Terrell will make at least one start at free safety, and possibly more, beginning this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What do we know about him?

First of all, let’s just say that the true answer is: Almost nothing that isn’t circumstantial OR things that are true from college, which can often be completely misleading and meaningless. What do you know about Trent Richardson’s college days? Or Thomas Rawls? Things that wouldn’t have helped you at all in NFL evaluation before they played.

If you’re really hardcore, you can watch his high school highlights here, good enough to get him onto the Aggies roster.

Terrell made 24 starts at Texas A&M, recording 61 tackles and two interceptions as a senior. Teammates included Michael, Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans (who he’ll be seeing on the field this Sunday), EZ Nwachukwu, Damontre Moore, and Lewis. It was a good team that went 11-2 and finished 5th in the polls. It’s not fair to just say “Terrell wasn’t drafted so he must not have been that great” though because he had dozens of teammates who will never even get close to the NFL. Terrell didn’t get to be one of the 250-some players drafted in 2013, but he did have something very special:

Speed.

At his Aggies pro day (funny enough, with Moore and Nwachukwu), Terrell posted a 40-time of 4.36. He followed it up with a 4.35. Video: https://vine.co/v/bwWQgg0xpuz (I don’t know why, but NFLDraftScout has a 40 low of his at 4.24. That would be incredible, but I don’t know if there’s an actual source for this, I can’t find one.)

The fastest player at the 2013 NFL Combine was Olympic athlete Marquise Goodwin, who ran a 4.27. Then three players ran a 4.34: Texas A&M teammate Ryan Swope, Tavon Austin, and Onterio McCalebb. That would have made Terrell the fifth-fastest player at the combine, only a fraction behind those three, and lagging a little bit behind one of the fastest men in the world. (Unless someone can source that 4.24, then Terrell is faster than the fastest guy in the league maybe.)

At his Texas pro day in 2010, Earl Thomas ran a 4.37, and some say it was a 4.35. (Strangely, he pulled a hamstring on his pro day.) Height (5’10), weight (between 197-207), and speed, they are almost the same. There are other factors of course that made Thomas one of the greatest draft prospects of all-time at the position (depending who you ask, obviously) but let’s not overlook that Terrell wouldn’t be the first secondary player in Seattle to come out of obscurity to become a good or great player.

In fact, that’s the case with literally every single one of them under Carroll, except for Thomas.

Kam Chancellor. DeShawn Shead. Byron Maxwell. Brandon Browner. Ron Parker. Jeremy Lane. More examples. Chris Maragos is doing fine with Philly and got an extension recently. Walter Thurmond. Jeron Johnson. Others.

Terrell signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013 to play for Gus Bradley and was released during cutdowns to 53 players. He was signed to the practice squad, then later signed with the Houston Texans in December. The Texans let him go and the Seahawks picked him up in July of 2014. He was released during final cuts but Seattle added him to the practice squad, then promoted him to the active roster in October of that year. He’s been so important to the team, despite getting almost no snaps, that they’ve mostly protected him ever since. Think about how many guys they don’t do that for, that they just churn through the practice squad.

Pete Carroll’s been waiting for this moment with almost as much anticipation as Terrell has, I’m sure.

No Seahawks fan ever wanted to see Terrell start at free safety, but that’s just because Earl Thomas is one of the 10 or 20 best players in the NFL. It’s unlikely that Terrell will ever become a full-time starter with Seattle, but a couple of good games this season means that like Parker, he can go be a safety somewhere else and get paid very well. There’s still a chance that Terrell is actually a very good pro player and like Lane, Shead, or Maxwell, simply didn’t get a chance to showcase it because they’re buried on the depth chart behind elite players. For 10-14 days that won’t be the case for Terrell, just like it won’t be for Neiko Thorpe or DeAndre Elliott since Shead is also out for 10-14 days, and as it was for Kelcie McCray when he was able to start in place for Kam for four games.

McCray did fine, but the loss of Chancellor was certainly felt. The loss of Thomas can’t be overstated, but it definitely doesn’t mean that the Seahawks are screwed. If anything, it will give us an opportunity to see what Terrell can do and hopefully, he can do a lot. Physically, he’s got nearly all the gifts that Thomas does, or so it would seem. Is he preparing like Thomas does? Does he have a football IQ anywhere near that of Thomas? Will he jump on the shoulders of giants after a big play from an offensive player like Thomas does? Maybe not actually necessary. Will he spout crazy quotes to reporters that sound kind of epic and biblical but then you go back and think, “Wait, what?” like Thomas does? Let’s skip that as a necessity.

All we care about is, “Can he cover like Thomas does?” That’s a huge task, but with so many great players around him on defense, I am not worried. I’m interested.

Now who wants to go see Invasion of the Saucer-Men?