The first time Terrill Barnes touched the ball for IUP, he caught a screen pass from the quarterback and raced 62 yards before being tackled in the 2011 season opener against East Stroudsburg. A little while later, Barnes caught a 50-yard touchdown pass and the Crimson Hawks went on to win 28-13.
But it wasn’t until more than a year later that Barnes, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound wide receiver, really got things going, when he became quarterback Mike Box’s go-to guy late last season, when IUP advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Since then, Barnes has all but been unstoppable.
“Terrill’s got a lot of talent and he’s been playing more consistent,” said IUP head coach Curt Cignetti, whose team plays host to California on Saturday in the fifth annual Coal Bowl. “He’s a big target and he’s got good hands and he’s really good after the catch. He’s really stepped up his game.”
In his 25-game IUP career, Barnes has 75 catches for 1,411 yards and 11 touchdowns. Barnes knows it took him a while to really get going after he transferred to IUP from Lackawanna Community College, but the Gettysburg native said his steady improvement came from gaining some self-confidence.
“I know I can play with that ability,” he said. “I just started becoming more confident in myself and my quarterback.”
This year, he has 16 catches for 291 yards and one touchdown, although last week against Seton Hill he mustered only three receptions for 23 yards.
Box, who also is Barnes’ roommate, believes Barnes is one of the best weapons a quarterback could have.
“He’s nothing less than a monster,” Box said. “We need to get the ball in his hands. … He’s a grown man out there.”