PFC Rookie Blogs: Terry Hawthorne DB Illinois

PFC Rookie Blogs bring you another interview with Terry Hawthorn CB from Illinois.  Check out his experiences at the Combine & East-West Shrine game as he prepares for the NFL draft.

Illinois in the "Fight Hunger Bowl", ATT Park, in San Francisco, CA~Illinois defeats UCLA 20~14

My time at Illinois has been memorable.  I would not change one injury, practice, game or loss.  It has made me into the player I am teaching me sacrifice, adversity, adaptability, and resiliency.  I was able to play in great games with strong competition and even had the opportunity to play within a couple of post-season bowls. In regards to some of the best players I have had the opportunity to play against, I must admit I think that each person I have competed against (on my team or opposing team) does not compare to the competitor I have in myself.  I respect all the athletes that I have had the chance to meet and play with and against, because they have all taught me more about the game and myself. The University of Illinois will always hold a special place in my heart and I am thankful for all of those that support and continue to support me as I focus on achieving another one of my athletic goals: to play within the NFL.

The combine in Indianapolis was a good time and an unforgettable experience. As a football player at this stage in your career, a goal for everyone completing their final year is to receive the invitation to the combine.  Once I received the invitation and actually took flight to Indianapolis from my training site in Florida, I felt like I reached one of my personal goals, which happens to be the goal of many of my peers, however   so few are blessed to add to their athletic resume. I was honored and proud of my performance in college that it was strong enough to earn me the invitation.  It was a great opportunity to test in front of a representative from all the NFL teams and to be acknowledged as a top competitor in my position. I feel that my combine performance was strong and competitive.  I am very proud of my numbers and very appreciative that I was able to attend the NFL combine. I felt confident in my performance at the combine and decided that my results were competitive after talking with several of the NFL representatives, mentors and coaches when deciding to keep my combine numbers for my Pro Day.

The East/West Shrine game was a great experience. I have participated in All-American games in high school as well post season bowls on the collegiate level; but to have the opportunity to meet and within a week feel comfortable with my teammates that came from different backgrounds, conferences, and coaching styles to perform and win the game, it was a great time.  We all had fun raising money for a great cause and meeting some of the patients that we were playing for.  Additionally, on a performance perspective, I had a good game and the game helped NFL teams observe my versatility and agility on the field.  I would like to again thank the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and the committee for the Shrine game for the opportunity to play within the post-season game and for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. I will always remember the game’s slogan, “Strong Legs Run That Weak Legs May Walk.”

In high school, I played several different positions for the team and had gained experience and had success.  When I arrived at Illinois, the coaches discussed the option with me of moving to defense and we gave it a trial run in practices and a couple of games.  The coaches wanted to use my speed, experience and abilities to add value to the defense.   After I had success in the position, I stayed in the position.  However in my senior year, I was able to play both sides and it was a great feeling to show the team, coaches and the fans my strength and versatility. I feel that by me playing the WR spot gives me a good understanding on what routes to expect by the WR release off the ball.

I have made some solid contacts with teams and have had and will have more workout and meetings within the month of April. I have many NFL players I have admired as a player and a fan of the sport, however, as I prepare to hopefully gain my spot in the NFL, I do not have one person I would like to emulate besides myself, but rather I would like to emulate some of the skills and strengths I see of several players; some great notables are Steve Smith, Dion Sanders, Warren Dunn and Keyshawn Johnson.

At Illinois I was a team player and helped motivate the team to persevere after tough losses and injuries.  I think that being a team player is an important component, and willing to do anything to help the team win is something I will bring into the NFL locker room.  As I continue to grow as a player, I would like to develop my combination of intelligence, instincts. I want to gain even more flexibility and make early contact with receivers than I have in college and then use my speed and coverage ability. I want to continue to make it difficult for opposing receivers to not have an easy time getting off the line and running neat pass routes. I aspire to be the fastest, strongest, and a team player that is always one step ahead of the opposing team. Those are some of the skills that great corners in the NFL possess and I want to focus on growing those areas in my game so that I am able to add immediate value to an NFL team. I am ready and excited to earn a spot on one of the 32 teams.