Terrell’s gamble pays off with first-round pick

Terrell’s gamble pays off with first-round pick


Terrell’s gamble pays off with first-round pick


In the days following the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, some wondered if A.J. Terrell was going to come back to Clemson for his senior year.

The junior had a bad game against LSU that night in New Orleans, giving up two pass plays of 52 and 56 yards to Ja’Marr Chase, who set a national championship game record 221 yards on nine catches.

However, scouts still liked Terrell’s length, his physical toughness as a cornerback and feel he can be a quality press-man corner in the NFL. So, Terrell took a chance on himself, and it paid off Thursday when the Atlanta Falcons selected him No. 16 overall in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

A First-Team All-ACC selection, Terrell played in all 15 games this past season for Clemson, while recording 34 tackles. He also had two interceptions in helping a Clemson defense that finished fourth nationally in passing defense, third in scoring defense and sixth in total defense.

Terrell had six inceptions in his Clemson career, to go along with 20 PBUs.

In all, Terrell played in 44 games and started 30 of them at Clemson. The 6-1, 190-pound defensive back had a pick-six the 2019 CFP National Championship Game against Alabama, which started the scoring. He also had a career-high eight tackles that night.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Terrell is a guy who can just take away one side of the field.

“He has played high level ball. He has gone day in and day out against elite players,” Swinney said. “He has played in big games and made big plays. He is confident. He has put in a lot of work.

“He is in a great place physically. He really understands the game. He is a guy that can take a guy away for sure.”

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