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Terrrell Farley

In addition to starring at linebacker, Terrell Farley was a whiz at blocking kicks. He still holds the Husker record for blocked kicks by a linebacker.

Like a bottle rocket, Terrell Farley burst on the Nebraska football scene in 1995.

Nobody was faster at getting to the quarterback. Nobody was more effective blitzing and in pass coverage.

Asked about Farley’s performance against Kansas State in 1995, teammate Eric Stokes said: “It was unbelievable — that’s the only way I can phrase it. Terrell was in the backfield so fast I didn’t have a chance to backpedal.”

From teammate Grant Wistrom: “We all know Terrell. He’s going to go out and make the big plays he needs to make.”

In his first game at NU in 1995, he intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown against Oklahoma State. In his last game in 1995, he had eight tackles, two sacks, a pass breakup and made Florida look hopeless.

But almost as quickly as he blazed his way through defenses, earned second-team All-America status and 1996 preseason first-team All-America honors, he dropped out of sight.

The Columbus, Georgia, native was suspended for two games in 1996 for driving under the influence. He was dropped from the team for a second DUI the same year.

“It took me almost 20 years to learn what I didn’t learn in college, that I couldn’t handle the booze,” said Farley, who transferred to NU after playing at Independence (Missouri) Community College. “It is something I battle every day. My girlfriend told me it was her or alcohol. (Former Husker) Ricky Simmons has helped me make the right choice, and now I just stay away from alcohol and I have the same girlfriend.”

Simmons, who played at Nebraska in the early 1980s, has become a counselor and motivational speaker after his battles with alcohol.

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“Coach (Tom) Osborne called me and called Terrell and put us together and now, we’re going on one day — if that is successful, then you go to the next day. You don’t get cured in a week, or a year. You make a commitment and make yourself accountable, and Terrell has been accountable (for five months),” he said.

“Sometimes the brightest stars have the most trouble. Terrell was one of the best ever and yet, he’s human, and now he’s learning to be himself again.”

Farley, who didn’t start at weakside linebacker until the seventh game, played behind one of the best defensive fronts ever — Jared Tomich, Wistrom, Christian Peter, Jason Peter — and alongside linebackers Jay Foreman, Phil Ellis and Doug Colman, and in front of the secondary of Michael Booker, Tyrone Williams, Mike Minter and Tony Veland.

The defense was so good that rarely did the starters play past midway through the third quarter as NU rolled up victory after victory.

“When I was playing, it was great to be on that team with all that talent and feel like I was a part of something bigger,” said Farley, who finished with a team-leading 62 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five sacks, three interceptions and five pass breakups.

“Man, they were great players and we honestly didn’t think anybody could get close to us,” Farley said. “We had to match the 1994 team that won a national championship. We felt like we needed to make a name for ourselves. We were relentless and we weren’t greedy about it.”

After Nebraska, Farley tried the NFL but couldn’t make it as a cornerback. He played some in the CFL for Saskatchewan and now works in construction.

“I loved football and everybody was so good to me, but I couldn’t be myself with the alcohol and I brought myself down all by myself,” Farley said. “Now, I’m trying to build myself back up.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7313 or khambleton@journalstar.com.

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Ken grew up in Chicago and is a Doane College grad. His Mr. Sportsknowitall column appears Sundays, and he covers a variety of beats.

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