4:08 PM EDT, May 22, 2012
The last time I saw Terrell Bonds he was at Orlando’s Barnett Park taking part in the Top Recruits Now combine. That was in January.
Little did I know that the next time I saw him, the record-setting Kissimmee Liberty High quarterback would be running first team QB for Hollywood’s McArthur High.
Yes, another transfer, but this one isn’t about the betterment of a student’s athletic experience.
It’s not about forging electric company documents to set up fictitious residency within the zone of a better football school. (Ahem, Armwood)
It’s not about circumventing established school borderlines in order to supposedly earn more recognition for a student’s athletic endeavors.
There are no hidden agendas in this transfer story. No fake addresses. No bogus electric service accounts. Not even a long-lost uncle, or newfound parental guardian.
Terrell Bonds’ family had issues, which is not unlike the majority of families across the nation. Both Eugene and Gloria Bonds needed jobs.
“We were going to move anywhere from here to Atlanta … the first place we got a job,” Gloria said. “It had nothing to do with anything else. Terrell was doing well where we were. We’d never move from Orlando all the way down here just for that (football). We’re just trying to live right now. It’s hard times right now.”
Indeed Terrell was doing well. As a sophomore at Liberty last season, the 5-foot-10, 160-pound — soaking wet — quarterback passed for a Liberty record 2,007 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed just over 50 percent of his passes for an average of 16 yards per catch.
With those kind of numbers and an opportunity to establish something at the relatively new school (Liberty opened in 2007), Bonds, who is in the Class of 2014, wasn’t exactly pleased when the news came that he would be moving — again.
The family had already moved from South Florida — where he likely would have attended Miami Central — four years previous as Eugene relocated with the law firm for which he was working. Two years after moving to Orlando, Eugene was laid off.
“Oh he was really upset when we told him we had to move ... I think he’s just now getting over the shock. He didn’t want to go anywhere,” Gloria said. “He’s better. He has a love for sports and he’s fitting in at school so he’s ok now.
“We did what benefitted us and I told him that sometimes in life that’s what happens. As a kid, I didn’t have a choice either.”
Football has certainly helped. Running QB1 at a new school has a way of making things a little less terrifying for a transfer student.
“I think he’d have a great year anywhere he went because of his drive,” Gloria said. “I knew he’d do well no matter where we ended up … I just never thought it would be as quarterback … I always thought it would be at receiver."
He is a bit diminutive in stature, and when college recruiters come knocking, they are likely to ask him how he’d like to play defensive back. No matter what they want him to play, Terrell will likely step up to the task, and, given his past performances, do it well.
The odd thing about Bonds’ transfer to Broward County is that he isn’t the only quarterback to leave Liberty High for South Florida. Quarterback Greg Hankerson left in the spring of 2011 for similar reasons to those of the Bonds family, ultimately paving the way for Bonds to have his breakout sophomore season.
Hankerson is also a starting quarterback in Broward County, taking snaps at Fort Lauderdale Boyd Anderson and is a rising senior.
Liberty Coach David Benson has handled this quarterback exodus quite well. Losing your starting quarterback earlier than expected is bad enough, but two straight years is enough to make a coach start ripping plays from the playbook.
“To be honest with you, What can you do?” Benson said. “We’ll just try and find the next guy. That’s what happened to us last year and we were blessed to have Terrell. Now we’re going through that same process again. We’re kind of limited on things we can do in the spring, but we’ve plugged Jalen (rising senior running back Jalen Benn) in a little bit of a Wildcat situation and we’ll go from there.”
Benson is hoping that what he sees as potential in rising freshman Isaiah Wilson comes to fruition. He said he thinks Wilson can step in and help the varsity squad get back on track at quarterback, but for now he will rely on the speedster Benn, who missed seven games last year with a torn meniscus in his knee.
“The only way to find out is throw the kid in the fire. That’s what we did with Terrell,” Benson said of Wilson. “Terrell went straight from playing youth league quarterback to playing varsity quarterback just like that and obviously did fine.
“But if it doesn’t work out, we’ll just go back to plan B. With Jalen, we don’t have an experienced quarterback back there. Terrell knew how to read defenses and Jalen doesn’t. So the playbook is somewhat limited. But I just tell him, ‘Don’t force it if you don’t like it because as fast as you are, you can just take off.’ ”
And with 4.42-second (4.38 before his injury), 40-yard-dash speed, he’s quite likely to make some things happen.
“Does he want to play quarterback? No,” Benson said. “But over the past week or so he came up and said, ‘coach, this isn’t so bad because I got the ball in my hands all time.’
“I said, ‘You damned right you do.’ “
Benson just has to make sure Benn and/or Wilson don’t up and move over the summer. He might not deal so well with another QB transfer.Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting.
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