During the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 13, NFL Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders sent out a Tweet about Clemson corner A.J. Terrell that went viral:
Terrell had a forgettable night in the national title game as he struggled to defend LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, allowing him to catch a 52-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and then haul in a 56-yard reception in the second quarter that set up another touchdown in LSU’s eventual 42-25 victory.
Because of that, many people thought Sanders was throwing shade at Terrell with his Tweet, but Sanders said during NFL Network’s coverage of the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Sunday that his post was misinterpreted.
“Let me tell you something about this kid. I tweeted out ‘I’m praying for this kid’ as the game was going on and some people took it wrong,” Sanders said. “What I was praying for was his ability to stay focused and his mental toughness.”
Sanders went on to explain that he was actually impressed by how Terrell responded to adversity on a national stage when things weren’t going his way.
“He didn’t give up,” Sanders said. “When you get beat like that on national TV, you go into the tank. Now the DB coach has to fish you out of the dern tank the whole rest of the game. He did not do that. He stayed true, got right up there and bumped and run and did his job. I love it.”
While most will remember Terrell’s national title game performance in a negative light, Sanders looks at it a little bit differently.
“When you get got like he got had in that game but was able to stay focused and not give up and give in, that showed me a lot, man,” he said. “So, I love what this kid did and how he finished that game. I’ll take him any day.”
Terrell showed well at the combine at Lucas Oil Stadium, running a 4.42 40-yard dash while recording a vertical jump of 34.5 inches and a broad jump of 129 inches.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said during the network’s broadcast of the combine that he believes Terrell’s stock is still high heading into April’s draft despite a shaky showing against LSU.
“He’s my 35th overall player,” Jeremiah said. “He’s going to end up going in the first round. He’s just too big and fast and athletic. He got beat up a little bit by Ja’Marr Chase from LSU, but there’s a long line of people there that got the same treatment.”
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