By Rubin E. Grant
When Hoover had virtual classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2020-21 school year, Terrell Jones wasn’t content with just spending time in front of a computer screen.
He also ate and ate, and ate again, adding much needed weight to his 6-foot-5 frame.
“I ate mostly carbohydrates, meat and potatoes, green vegetables, whatever I could to get my fill,” Jones said.
Jones, a defensive lineman, had been trying to transform his body since joining Hoover’s college football team in sophomore year. At the time, he weighed just over 200 pounds.
“I was leaner than the other linemen, but I was also faster,” Jones explained.
Now a more muscular senior, Jones tips the scales between 250 and 255 pounds, but he hasn’t lost any of his speed, as he showed last Friday, collecting a fumble and running 52 yards for the Bucs’ first touchdown. in a 34-10 victory over Hewitt-Trussville in a Class 7A, Region 3 game at the Hoover Met.
The Huskies were walking the field after the opening kickoff, but a high shot against Hewitt Cade quarterback Ott Carruth and a hit from Bucs linebacker DJ Estes resulted in a fumble. Jones took it from there.
“After the ball hit the ground I picked it up and tried to get to the end zone as quickly as possible,” Jones said.
The touchdown was the first of Jones’ high school career.
“This is something I dreamed of,” he said. “I hope to have another (this) week.”
Hoover coach Josh Niblett enjoyed watching Jones transform from a skinny kid into a force on the Bucs’ defensive front.
“This is a child that I have seen grow up, mature and understand life,” Niblett said. “He’s worked hard on the pitch, in the weight room and off the pitch to get to where he needs to be, not only physically but mentally. It was cool to watch.
Jones has turned into a highly recruited player. He has already received 17 offers from colleges including Illinois, Minnesota and UAB.
“I’m going to think through all of my options,” Jones said. “All of this is still mind-blowing to me. “
This season Jones has gone from defensive tackle to defensive end in the defensive scheme put in place by new defensive coordinator Chad Merrill, who had been at Vestavia Hills. Jones already has nine sacks after having just three in the 2020 season.
“His style is more offensive and faster,” Jones said, “but not too fast because you still have to stop the race.”
Hoover (7-0, 4-0 in Region 3) played solid defense throughout the season, allowing just 13 points per game.
“It’s not just one person, it’s all defense, high school, linebackers and the defensive line,” Jones said.
Jones played a key role, leading the team in the sacks.
“He’s so long at 6-5 and he’s covering a lot of ground,” Niblett said. “He can rush the passer and play the race. He was very productive.
Jones did not participate in Hoover’s 35-16 victory at Prattville two weeks ago due to a broken toe. At first he didn’t know he was broken.
“Someone stepped on my foot earlier in the season and I had been in pain for almost three weeks,” he said. “After the Oak Mountain game, having to change direction while chasing their quarterback (Evan Smith), I finally went to our athletic coach and had an x-ray. He showed me a broken bone, but it had already started to heal on its own, so all I needed to miss was a week.
A healthy Jones will try to wreak more havoc when Hoover visits rival Spain Park on Friday in another region game.
“Every game is a big game for us,” Jones said. “The coach loves that we go into every game ready to play and come out with a win.”