The Los Angeles Rams were on the phone with a call that brought tears and cheers.
“I didn’t really get a chance to get everyone’s reaction,” Terrell Burgess said. “I was crying so much.”
Burgess, a former star at San Marcos High School, was selected in the NFL draft by the Rams for his toughness. But few fault Burgess for getting weepy in his mother’s Escondido home when his dream came true last week.
“I had no clue who would pick me,” said Burgess, a defensive back. “I kind of went into this thing blind.”
Those who mentored Burgess knew better. Like Jason Texler, his former San Marcos coach now directing the Eastlake High program.
It’s Burgess’ concoction of skills and smarts that led Texler to believe Burgess would continue playing after his stint at the University of Utah.
“While he is a tremendous player, there is no better person than Terrell,” Texler said. “He’s a tremendously hard worker and it’s kids like him that make coaching high school football worth it.”
The Rams saw value when eyeing the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Burgess in the third round and executed the 104th overall pick on the physical and cerebral athlete who is comfortable at safety and cornerback.
He was sensational in his senior season at Utah, with 81 tackles and an interception, shining on a squad that was among the nation’s best.
“If you can be a star on that defense, that is really saying something,” Texler said.
Burgess is a man of few words, but they come with an impact. Texler said Burgess’ leadership traits were off the charts, but not because of his decibel level.
“He wasn’t a hoot-and-holler guy,” Texler said. “He mostly led by example, although he was vocal if he needed to be. But he took his leadership role very seriously.”
Burgess laughs at his good fortune of being a Ram as he follows in the cleat marks of his favorite player, Eric Weddle.
Like Burgess, Weddle, an All-Pro safety, went to Utah and played with the Rams last season before retiring. Weddle also spent nine years with the Chargers.
Weddle gave Burgess advice before the NFL draft.
“I think the biggest thing that he said was just to be patient and understand that everything’s on God’s plan of what happens,” Burgess said.
Burgess showed the patience of Job at Utah. Despite being a standout wide receiver and defensive back at San Marcos, Burgess was pointed toward the bench at Utah.
He didn’t become a starter until years later, revealing the dedication and perseverance that Texler predicts bodes well for his NFL future.
Instead of squawking about his lack of playing time at Utah, Burgess learned every defensive position.
“His football IQ is very high,” Texler said. “That is going to make him a tremendous asset at the next level.”
Bring it on, Burgess barked.
“This is amazing and I’m so happy right now,” Burgess said. “I don’t know what to say.”
Don’t worry, Terrell. Your misty eyes said it all.
Contact Jay Paris @firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @jparis_sports
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports