FLORENCE — Just dominate. Two simple words, but they are words to live by for Florence defensive end Regen Terry, the best Pinal County football prospect in recent memory.
Despite its increasing size – Pinal is the third-largest county in the state with nearly 450,000 people – it doesn’t produce football players with multiple Power 5 conference offers.
Terry, a senior at Florence High School, is the outlier. At 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, his physical gifts are obvious. Those gifts, and a relentless work ethic, have caught the attention of many Division I programs.
On Monday, Terry narrowed his list of schools down to six – Nebraska, Utah, Boston College, Kansas State, Boise State and Arizona.
Small town Superman
Originally from Syracuse, New York, Terry moved to Florence in 2007. Players from smaller towns often face doubts that they can compete at a high level. Terry has never had that problem.
And he’s not concerned about trying to prove that a small school player can make it big. He’s got other things on his mind.
“I’m not worried about how people think about me,” he told PinalCentral on Thursday, shortly before hitting the field for the first practice of the season in pads. “I’m just worried about getting better and helping my team win ... I worry about dominating the game.”
Known for his nonstop motor, Terry said he challenges himself by pushing hard, even when he’s tired. He wants to be known as a finisher, having his biggest impact in the fourth quarter.
Florence coach Scott Howard said he has to caution Terry to reel it in at times, as Terry often tries to work out twice a day. He pushed himself so hard in a game during his sophomore year that he made himself sick.
“He went so hard that he ended up in the hospital with a full body cramp,” Howard said. “That’s just the type of kid he is. He just wouldn’t stop. He’s been like that his whole career. I think that’s what puts him over the edge, on top of, obviously, his talent.”
And Howard said Terry is more than just his athletic abilities. He praised Terry’s football knowledge, his dedication to watching film, his attitude and his tireless work ethic.
Terry has been on eight unofficial campus visits, and his most recent was a trip to Tucson on Tuesday to meet with the Arizona Wildcats. He said playing close to home will factor into his decision, to a degree.
“Just because my mom and my family is here,” he said. “Just for [them to see me play], and I can go home whenever I want. It’s a good network to have going into college.”
Terry did receive a scholarship offer from Arizona State, but he said there were “certain reasons” why things didn’t work out between them. He has no ill will toward ASU and said he wishes the Sun Devils well.
Rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals, 247 Sports and ESPN, Terry has enjoyed receiving tours of campuses across the country and getting a bit of royal treatment.
But the best part for him has been sharing that experience with his dad, as they spent some quality time together while traveling.
The attention from colleges has also resulted in some surprising moments at Florence High. One day, Howard walked out of his office and ran directly into Alex Grinch, the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma. Grinch showed up completely unannounced, eager to get a look at the Florence star.
It has also helped other players get looks from coaches, especially running back Joshua Maignan, who rushed for 1,439 yards and 12 TDs in nine games last year.
Dominating the competition
Not everyone good football player loves the sport, but for Terry, it is his favorite hobby. The attention and campus visits are not what he craves. What he enjoys the most about football is the camaraderie he has with his teammates.
“Playing with my teammates. I grew up with those guys since middle school,” he said. “I’ve been around it all my life, so you just grow to love it ... I’ve gotten really good at it, so I’m grateful for that.”
In 2018, Terry had 72 tackles, nine tackles for a loss and five sacks. But he’s not about stats, bench press numbers or 40-yard dash times. He said the proof is how one performs on the field, and it will show up on tape.
When he lines up opposite an offensive lineman, there’s only one thing on Terry’s mind.
“Just dominate them. It’s simple, just dominate them and keep doing it,” he said, adding he might occasionally say a few choice words to pump himself up. “I like to play with emotion. You might hear [trash talk] every once in awhile.”
Florence, a proud football program, suffered a disappointing 3-7 season in 2018 after losing a strong senior class. One of Terry’s biggest goals is to get the Gophers back to the 3A playoffs, and he has aspirations of winning a state title.
Howard said Terry will play a large role in getting Florence back to its winning ways, adding he’s also becoming more of a vocal leader. The coach is looking forward to see what Terry can do in his senior year, but he’s also excited about the prospects for Terry’s future.
“He’s got the ceiling to play on Sundays, he really does,” Howard said. “Now, there’s a lot of things he probably can’t control (to make it to the NFL) ... but if all things work out, he’s got that ability.”