Former receiver Terrell: Wolverines would've snatched national title had he, Henson stayed final year

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Former Michigan receiver David Terrell, who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 1999 and 2000, grew up in poverty in Richmond, Virginia, before arriving at UM, where he flourished for three years before heading to the NFL.

In a wide-ranging interview on the “View from the Press Box” podcast this week, Terrell, now a restaurant owner in Chicago who also has considerable real estate holdings, discussed at length his upbringing, along with his time at Michigan.

David Terrell racked up 2,317 yards receiving in three years (1998-2000) at Michigan, which is fifth-most in school history.

Among the thoughts he shared on Michigan were that he and quarterback Drew Henson should have stayed and would have won a national championship, he took a playful shot at former UM receiver Braylon Edwards, and shared an opinion on the Nos. 1 and 2 jerseys.

More:View from the Press Box podcast: Ex-Wolverine David Terrell on racism, advice for Jim Harbaugh

But Terrell shared in-depth his response to the recent protests for racial justice in the country in light of the George Floyd death at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis.

“I had a couple friends contact me to talk about different situations that happened when we were freshmen (at Michigan),” Terrell said. “I remember recalling just a couple of our teammates back during that time that did have Confederate flags on their cars. This was like ‘98 walking into Michigan, and being where I was from, it was very upsetting, daunting, however you want to label it.

“And what was so weird to me was the fact that I had noticed it and I had peers when I walked into Michigan that I kind of respected from the notion of they were intellectuals, teammates of mine that I looked up to. But they didn't know. I know, they see the same thing that I see and how did it resonate in them, and why does something resonate in me to such a core to where I spoke on it to the people that I needed to speak on it to about and changes were made? 

David Terrell was an All-American in 2000

"It wasn't like I needed to go out and start a protest or talk about this and talk about that. I just went to the channels that I needed to go to talk to them about the issue, raise it, and deal with it. It was dealt with and it was taken off. We didn't have no team discussion about it because there really wasn't no need to, but I'm looking at it in hindsight.”

He raised his son, David Jr., currently a receiver at Howard University, on his own and discussed how this younger generation has a different view of racism.

“I'm 40, I grew up in Richmond, and when I grew up (learning about) black history was prominent,” he said. “In February (Black History month), it was prominent in schools. You were being taught about who you were as a black person. Now, what you see is these new-age kids doesn't see race. They don't see the Japanese-American, the African- American, the Indian-American, they kind of just see a person. So it's like the kids today, if you give them a reason to go out and speak on something, they're gonna go out and speak on it.”

He is hopeful change is coming.

“It's a different age, and it's a different time, and with that being said, people got to understand, that, yes, uprising is common,” Terrell said. “But what is the exit strategy to this uprise? Where are we going? With all this stuff that's going on, were you able to turn this around? What is the end result to all of this? What are we going to change? What changes will be made? Who are going to speak on changes and how those changes will be brought upon to society or to a race of people that have been stricken for so long?”

Terrell spoke highly of his years at Michigan, and said that time helped shape who he has become.

"Michigan did great by me," said David Terrell, who chose to play at UM after initially picking Notre Dame.

“Michigan did great by me. Michigan did great by me,” he said. “Challenged me in ways — I'm the man that I am today is because the mere fact that I didn't go to Notre Dame (where he originally committed), I went to Michigan. Michigan is very liberal. Michigan has always fought for the betterment of all people. I never felt like I was walking into Mississippi State, where the Confederate flag was a part of their makeup. Once in Michigan I got there as freshmen and teammates of mine had the Confederate flag on their cars, and I'm telling you, within a week, big dog had had those things off. It was no argument.”

Here are a few other highlights from the podcast:

On leaving after his junior season: “I wish I would have stayed. I probably would have had 1,500 yards that last year, we would have won a national championship. I would have been the all-time leading receiver in Michigan history, OK? Not Mr. Braylon (Edwards). That’s what it seems to be like, David Terrell versus Braylon Edwards, who’s better? Of course, I’m better. I never lost a bowl game.  (Edwards is first in career receiving with 3,541 yards, and Terrell is fifth with 2,317).

On if he and quarterback Drew Henson had stayed at Michigan: “Drew Henson would have been the No. 1 (NFL Draft) pick and David Terrell might have been No. 2. If we came back, oh, for sure, might have a Heisman. We might have had Drew and David Terrell up for the Heisman. I for sure would have had a Biletnikoff Award. … We had national championship teams for sure. That’s why I said my senior year, I wish I wasn't Dave Terrell, the big-shot thinker. And sometimes I wish I didn't have a kid, all that big responsibility that I had on my chest. Sometimes I wish that George Steinbrenner didn't go to Ohio State and wasn't trying to steal Drew Henson from us, because George was for sure trying to just take Drew away from Michigan so Ohio State could start winning the game.”

On who was the better quarterback he played with at Michigan, Tom Brady or Drew Henson? “Why you want to ask me that? (laughing).”

Twitter: @chengelis