Thursday, September 2, 2004

RedHawks' Nande has nose for the ball

By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

Focus is no problem for Terna Nande.

The Miami junior linebacker has one thing in mind as he anticipates the snap on any given play.

"Find the football," he said. "Wherever the football is, that's where I want to be."

Nande has parlayed that approach into a reputation as a big-play linebacker, which he hopes to enhance Saturday as the RedHawks play defending Big Ten champion Michigan at Ann Arbor (noon, Ch. 9).

"I've been waiting for this game for a long time," said Nande, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native.

Besides finishing third among the RedHawks in solo (68) and total tackles (109) last season, Nande had four interceptions, which he returned for a total of 114 yards and a touchdown, 20 tackles for a loss, 5 1/2 sacks, six forced fumbles and two recoveries.

He earned back-to-back Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Week awards and was a second-team all-conference pick.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Nande led Miami with six solo tackles and 10 overall stops in the RedHawks' 49-0 win over Indiana State in their opener Saturday.

"He was pretty good last year, but he's only getting better and could be a dominant force this year," Miami coach Terry Hoeppner said.

Nande's parents, David and Veronica, came to the United States from Nigeria to pursue an education. Terna started playing football as a 6-year-old at the suggestion of an aunt, Julie Trammell, who helped raise him and his brother Tersee, a redshirt freshman wide receiver at Miami, when Veronica returned to Nigeria.

Terna was a first-team all-state player at Creston High School and was recruited by Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame. Some of them, unconvinced he would grow big enough to play linebacker, talked about moving him to defensive back.

Miami's recruiter, then-linebackers coach Taver Johnson, told Nande he would have to work to earn a starting position.

"He was the most trustworthy," Nande said of Johnson, who left Miami to join the Cleveland Browns' staff. "I like being the underdog. You can prove something."

Nande developed into what Miami strength and conditioning coach Dan Dalrymple describes as a "physical freak" who can run a 4.36-second 40-yard dash, bench-press 500 pounds and squat 620 pounds and has a 37-inch vertical leap.

"Terna is one of the finest physical specimens, if not the finest, I've seen ... at Miami," Hoeppner said.

"When I put on weight and got faster, I was like, 'Where can I go from here?' " Nande said.

Usually, it's into the offensive backfield.

"When I go after the ballcarrier," he said, "I want the ball itself."

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