Tom Brady and David Terrell were a formidable quarterback-wide receiver duo during their days with the Michigan Wolverines.
With Brady under center, Terrell had 888 yards and four touchdowns in the 1999 NCAA season.
Terrell went on to become an All-American a year later after he torched secondaries for 13 touchdowns during his junior year in Ann Arbor, MI.
Terrell’s 2,317 receiving yards also ranks him fifth-all time among Michigan Wolverines wide receivers.
Alas, David Terrell was nowhere close to elite during his disappointing four-year NFL career with the Chicago Bears.
Since the Bears never had a signal caller as elite as Brady during Terrell’s time in the Windy City, the latter’s career suffered.
Terrell’s detractors may argue it wasn’t solely a quarterback issue that led to the demise of his pro football career.
Either way, one can only wonder what it would’ve been like had David Terrell lived up to his true potential on the NFL gridiron.
David Terrell was born in Richmond, VA on March 13, 1979.
Terrell grew up impoverished in that part of Virginia. While he was growing up, he told The Detroit News’ Angelique S. Chengelis in 2020 he and his classmates learned a lot about black history.
In fact, Black History Month was a prominent event during Terrell’s formative years in Richmond.
Terrell played basketball and football at Huguenot High School in Richmond, VA.
He’s one of the most accomplished high school wide receivers in the state of Virginia.
Terrell currently ranks 15th all-time among Virginia high school wideouts with 2,361 receiving yards, per Rivals.com.
Former Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin ranks fourth all-time with 2,935.
Terrell also racked up an impressive 1,106 yards during his senior year with the Huguenot Falcons in 1997.
Terrell’s performance that year ranks him 33rd all-time among high school wideouts from Virginia.
It came as no surprise Terrell earned USA TODAY High School All-American honors in 1997.
He was ripe for the picking for the college football ranks.
David Terrell would make his mark in Michigan Wolverines football history as one of the best wide receivers who ever suited up in Maize and Blue.
College Days With The Michigan Wolverines
David Terrell joined one of the prestigious football programs the nation – the Michigan Wolverines – in 1998.
Terrell initially gave a verbal commitment to the Wolverines’ fierce rivals, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
However, he had a change of heart and decided to play for Michigan instead.
Terrell was part of Wolverines head football coach Lloyd Carr’s 1998 recruiting class that also included quarterback Drew Henson, wide receiver Marquise Walker, and running back Justin Fargas.
Not only did Terrell have a legitimate chance at winning a national title in Ann Arbor, MI, but he also gave emerging quarterback Tom Brady another weapon.
Brady and Terrell would go on to become one of the best quarterback-wide receiver duos in Michigan Wolverines football history.
Their explosive combination evoked memories of John Wangler and Anthony Carter (1979-1980) and Elvis Grbac and Desmond Howard (1990-1991).
Terrell donned Michigan’s famous No. 1 jersey during his true freshman campaign in the 1998 NCAA season.
During Terrell’s freshman and sophomore campaigns, he was a two-way player who also took the field as a defensive back.
In those six games, Terrell recorded eight tackles, two pass breakups, and an interception.
However, Terrell’s college football career on the other side of the ball got off to a slow start.
Terrell saw action in 12 games as a true freshman wide receiver in 1998 and had 123 yards and two touchdowns on 13 receptions.
The Wolverines went 9-3 in head football coach Lloyd Carr’s fourth season at the helm that year.
Fifteenth-ranked Michigan beat the 11th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in the 1999 Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day, 45-31.
In honor of rolling with Michigan +4.5, let’s play an all Wolverines edition of #randomathlete.
I’ll get this party started with former Week 1 waiver wire pickup David Terrell pic.twitter.com/0nmax30TsN
— Rob Cressy (@robcressy) November 15, 2020
Terrell emerged as a legitimate wide receiver threat in his sophomore season in 1999.
He racked up 888 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 61 receptions in twelve games.
Terrell’s average of approximately five receptions proved he was one of senior quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite targets in 1999.
For instance, Terrell caught six passes from Brady for 133 yards in Michigan’s 31-27 comeback win over the Penn State Nittany Lions on November 13, 1999.
With the Brady-Terrell tandem going off that year, the Wolverines won ten of twelve games.
Eighth-ranked Michigan squeaked by the fifth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2000 Orange Bowl, 35-34.
The Wolverines fought their way back from an early 14-0 deficit to stun the Crimson Tide.
David Terrell served notice he was one of the top receivers in the nation when he earned 2000 Orange Bowl MVP honors.
Terrell caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Brady to put the Wolverines on the board with 58 seconds remaining in the first half, 14-7.
Brady and Terrell joined forces on a fantastic 57-yard touchdown in the early goings of the third quarter to knot the count at 14 apiece.
After Alabama scored two consecutive touchdowns and threatened to put the game out of reach, Brady and Terrell struck again.
Terrell hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Brady with 5:42 left in the third quarter to keep Michigan within striking distance at 28-21.
Alabama kicker Ryan Pflugner somehow missed the potential game-tying PAT in the overtime session that allowed Terrell and Co. to escape Pro Player Stadium in Miami, FL with the narrow victory.
Terrell set new career-highs with 150 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions.
He also tied a career-best with 10 receptions.
It was a great way for Brady to end his career with the Michigan Wolverines.
As for David Terrell, he took his game to a higher level during his junior campaign in the 2000 NCAA season.
He and quarterback Drew Henson lit up the opposition during their junior season at Ann Arbor.
Terrell hauled in 101 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions in Michigan’s 58-0 blowout victory over the hapless Indiana Hoosiers on October 14, 2000.
Three weeks later, Terrell had his best game of the season.
He had 117 yards and three touchdowns on nine receptions in 12th-ranked Michigan’s 54-51 road loss to the 21st-ranked Northwestern Wildcats on November 4, 2000.
Terrell finished his junior campaign with 994 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on 63 receptions in eleven games.
The Wolverines went 9-3 in the 2000 NCAA season.
Terrell and Co. ushered in the new century with another bowl victory.
They beat the 20th-ranked Auburn Tigers in the 2001 Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day, 31-28.
Terrell scored on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Henson in the win.
To nobody’s surprise, David Terrell earned All-American honors after his breakout junior season in 2000.
The 2001 Citrus Bowl also marked the end of the David Terrell, Drew Henson, and Anthony Thomas triumvirate during the Lloyd Carr era in Ann Arbor.
Terrell decided to skip his senior season at Michigan and declare for the 2001 NFL Draft.
Bears fans aren’t fond of the David Terrell pick in the 1st in ‘01. But man, there’s a reason he went so high…both of these DBs were NFL starters pic.twitter.com/bFDB74vvuD
— Mark Dulgerian (@MarkDulgerian) October 22, 2020
Once Terrell’s college football days with the Wolverines came to an end, he told The Detroit News the school made him the man he is today:
“Michigan did great by me. Challenged me in ways – I’m the man that I am today is because (of) the mere fact that I didn’t go to Notre Dame, I went to Michigan.”
“Michigan is very liberal. Michigan has always fought for the betterment of all people.”
Terrell also told Chengelis he had some regrets about leaving Michigan after his junior season in 2000.
Had Terrell stayed for his senior year, he felt he would’ve had 1,500 yards and surpassed Braylon Edwards as the leading receiver in program history.
As of June 2020, Edwards’ 3,541 receiving yards are the most among Wolverines receivers. Terrell ranks fifth with 2,317 receiving yards.
Terrell also ranks fifth in career receiving touchdowns in Michigan football program history with 23.
He is also tied for third all-time with 14 touchdowns in a single season.
Had Terrell played during his senior season, he also felt he would’ve helped Michigan win a national championship, per The Detroit News.
Terrell concluded his three-year stint with the Michigan Wolverines with 2,005 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns on 137 receptions.
David Terrell headed into the 2001 NFL Draft with impressive credentials.
Regrettably, he failed to live up to lofty expectations several years later.
Pro Football Career
ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. spoke highly of David Terrell in the months leading to the 2001 NFL Draft.
Kiper wrote on February 7, 2001 “Terrell has it all” and “has the necessary work ethic to maximize his enormous potential in the NFL.”
Kiper wrote three weeks later he discovered Terrell played with a minor stress fracture during his junior year at Michigan. He showed some concern whether Terrell could display his true 40-yard dash speed at the NFL Scouting Combine that month.
As it turned out, Terrell ran 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine. His skill set made Kiper feel he was a Top 10 draft pick.
As draft day drew near and with Terrell’s injury subsiding, Kiper reported he was in the mix for the third overall pick which belonged to the Cleveland Browns.
Kiper earlier predicted Terrell would end up becoming the second overall selection with the Arizona Cardinals.
Neither scenario played out.
Instead, the Chicago Bears made David Terrell the eighth overall selection of the 2001 NFL Draft.
— Chicago History ™️ (@Chicago_History) August 14, 2015
The Bears finished the 2000 NFL season with a woeful 5-11 win-loss record.
Consequently, they extended their postseason drought to six years.
Chicago simply couldn’t move the sticks in the 2000 NFL campaign,
The Bears’ leading passer, Cade McNown, accounted for 1,646 yards of their 2,805 passing yards.
Chicago’s passing offense ranked 23rd in the National Football League in 2000.
The Bears’ putrid offense fared even worse: their 216 points were the fourth-worst in the league that year.
Only the Arizona Cardinals (210 points) and the two Ohio teams – the Cincinnati Bengals (185 points) and Cleveland Browns (161 points) – fared worse.
It seemed David Terrell fit the bill perfectly for Chicago.
The Bears passed up on wide receivers Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Chad Johnson, and Steve Smith; running back Deuce McAllister, tight end Todd Heap, and quarterback Drew Brees.
All of them had far more productive careers in the NFL than Terrell.
Terrell had a decent rookie year in the Windy City.
He had 415 yards and four touchdowns on 34 receptions while suiting up in all 16 games.
Terrell recorded his first multiple touchdown game with two scores in a 37-31 overtime thriller over the visiting San Francisco 49ers on October 28, 2001.
Terrell’s two touchdown receptions in the fourth quarter helped Chicago overcome a 19-point deficit and beat the 49ers.
Backup quarterback Shane Matthews found Terrell in the end zone for the game-tying score after the two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter.
Terrell managed to catch the ball before falling out of bounds.
“I knew I was in,” he told The Associated Press (via ESPN).
The Bears got the ball back at the 33 with just over two minutes to play, and went right down the field again: 12 plays, only one third down, and a four-yard TD from Matthews to… David Terrell! The rookie strikes again.
31-29, with a two-pointer to come… pic.twitter.com/WMJrv97LCw
— Jack M Silverstein (@readjack) February 7, 2021
The Bears enjoyed their best season in fifteen years with rookie wideout David Terrell on board.
Chicago won 13 games and made the postseason for the first time since the 1994 NFL campaign.
Unfortunately, the Bears lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Round on January 19, 2002, 33-19.
Terrell had 18 yards on two receptions in his first NFL postseason game.
A broken foot limited Terrell to just five games in his second year in the pro ranks in 2002.
Nonetheless, he caught three touchdown passes in those five games.
David Terrell never lived up to the hype when he recovered from his injury.
He caught a combined two touchdown passes in 32 games in the next two seasons.
The Chicago Bears went back to the losing ways in Terrell’s last three years in the Windy City.
Chicago averaged just five wins per season during that stretch.
The Bears ultimately released Terrell at the end of the 2004 NFL season.
Unknown to Terrell, he had played his last down in the National Football League at that point in his career.
Terrell agreed to a one-year deal with the New England Patriots on April 4, 2005.
According to ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady urged team management to sign Terrell, his Michigan Wolverines teammate from 1998 to 1999.
Nothing came out of the reported deal. Terrell eventually spent the next two years in limbo.
Terrell signed with the Denver Broncos on April 12, 2007.
Unfortunately, the Broncos released him just four-and-a-half months later.
Terrell didn’t find any takers for the next two years.
The Kansas City Chiefs reportedly worked out Terrell twice in the fall of 2009.
Then-Chiefs head coach Todd Haley knew Terrell dating back to the former’s days as the Chicago Bears wide receivers coach.
Regrettably, Terrell didn’t crack the Chiefs’ 53-man roster that year.
Kansas City wound up signing former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer instead.
David Terrell finished his disappointing four-year NFL career with 1,602 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on 128 receptions in 53 games.
David Terrell is a single father who raised his son, David, Jr. by himself, per The Detroit News.
The younger Terrell is currently a senior wide receiver for the Howard Bison.
Terrell refuted claims he was a Chicago Bears draft bust.
He told RedEyeChicago.com in 2013 (via CBS Sports’ Josh Katzowitz) the Bears quarterback merry-go-round made his game suffer:
“My last year here was just in disarray because the quarterbacks didn’t even know the play calls. So it takes out some camaraderie, yeah.”
“I didn’t have that anywhere but at Michigan with Tom Brady and with that quarterback Drew Henson.”
Terrell even insisted he played decently until Bears quarterback Rex Grossman broke his foot in a game against the Minnesota Vikings in the 2004 NFL season.
Terrell went on to say he would have loved the opportunity to play with a gunslinger like Jay Cutler in Chicago.
Regrettably, that scenario didn’t materialize.
Terrell was cleared of drug and battery charges on February 19, 2014, per The Associated Press (via the Richmond Times-Dispatch).
A Cook County judge in Illinois found Terrell not guilty of manufacturing or delivering marijuana and a misdemeanor battery charge.
Police arrested Terrell the previous year after they allegedly spotted Terrell and two companions with cannabis and “materials to package and distribute narcotics.”
— A Star Valet (@astarvaletinc) November 12, 2016
David Terrell currently owns a restaurant in the Chicago area. He also owns several real estate holdings, per The Detroit News.
Terrell is the co-founder of VestNyoU, a real estate services company based in The Windy City.