FRANKLIN –- Terrel Correia understands it, and he’s OK with being labeled as an unfinished product.
“I’m a project,” Correia admitted, in between games Sunday afternoon at the Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 South Regional, at Franklin High School.
Then again, what else is there to say about the Whalers’ 6-foot-7, 270-pound tight end? At the time of his commitment to UMass back on July 2, there were no evaluations for him on any major recruiting websites, including ESPN's database. No other Division 1 FBS school had extended an offer to this player generally unknown outside the Cape & Islands region.
His stats for the Whalers’ Division 5 Super Bowl championship run last fall –- 13 catches for 195 yards and two scores, 44 tackles –- left more to be desired, too. That the Whalers play in the Mayflower League, one of the lowest levels of competition in the MIAA, doesn’t give credence to those numbers either.
The weekend of UMass’ one-day prospect camp at Gillette Stadium, the Whalers brought over a dozen players from their program. But the prized one of the bunch, Correia, was down in Raleigh at North Carolina State’s prospect camp – a performance he said was a wake-up call, and a reality check.
“It told me I needed to hit the weight room, and work on my conditioning,” he said. “I’ve been working on that every day. I’ve been working in the weight room four times a week.”
With his commitment on July 2, Correia will become the first Nantucket player in a quarter-century to move on to the Division 1 FBS level. Former linebacker Brian Ryder graduated Nantucket in 1987 and ended up at Tulane University following a two-year stint at Dean College. From there, Ryder made it deep into Patriots’ training camp in 1991, before coming up just short of the final roster cut.
In Correia, UMass sees a player with plenty of upside to convert into an offensive tackle, what with the big hands, long frame that has yet to fill out, and fast-twitch footwork welded during the winter basketball season.
On the hardwood, he’s known to drop a variety of drop steps and baby hook’s (he averaged a double-double last winter), and some of that athletic crossover was on display this afternoon.
In the Whalers’ final game of pool play, for instance, Correia came across the middle on a post route, anticipating a ball thrown slightly behind him, twisted his torso and effortlessly snagged the ball out of the air with one of his big mitts. Plays like that, along with his quality footwork, make some wonder if he is headed for a breakout campaign this fall.
Asked about motivating factors for the season, Correia says the scholarship offer from UMass, and subsequent commitment, has become a primary driving force.
“Big motivation, yeah,” he said. “It’s pretty much the only thing that drives me...I just want to play college football. I want to prove to myself that I’m capable of doing it. I’m the first player from Nantucket since 1987 to get a Division 1 scholarship, and I want to make the most of it.”