First and Goal with Terence Fells-Danzer
Junior fullback Terence Fells-Danzer is coming off a career day against Eastern Michigan when he scored his first two collegiate touchdowns, one via pass reception and the second on a 70-yard kickoff return. The Culpeper, Va., native recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to discuss the game, switching positions in the spring from linebacker to fullback and the importance of his family support.
Question: Against Eastern Michigan you got your first start of the season, scored the first two touchdowns of your Cavalier career, and helped the team get a big win. All in all, it was a pretty good day for you?
Fells-Danzer: It was something you can only dream of. Having the opportunity to catch my first touchdown was great. It came from one of my good friends, so it meant a lot to me. And the second one played out just the way we had practiced it, and it just so happened I scored off it.
Question: When was the last time you had a two-touchdown game like that?
Fells-Danzer: It was actually the first time I’ve ever scored two touchdowns in a game.
Question: Even including Pee-Wee football?
Fells-Danzer: I actually didn’t play Pee-Wee. In high school, I did score, but never a two-touchdown game. It was definitely special.
Question: I’m sure you’ve played out in your mind before what it would be like to score your first touchdown as a Cavalier. Was it like you imagined?
Fells-Danzer: Everyone has that idea, like, ‘When I score, I’m going to do this.’ I had that same speech with my friends, but when it actually happened, I didn’t know what to do. That’s why when I caught it, I ran off to the right. It didn’t hit me until I stopped. I was like, ‘I just scored!’ It was a great feeling. I didn’t want to do anything too flashy because it would cost us a few yards, so I just celebrated with my teammates.
Question: You mentioned earlier that the touchdown was made even more special by the fact that it came on a pass from one of your good friends – quarterback Marc Verica. How close are you and Marc?
Fells-Danzer: We spend a lot of time off the field together-whether it’s him just coming over to hang out and play video games or watch TV, or whether it’s just us going to the dining hall and having time with other teammates. It’s usually Marc, Kris Burd, and I-side-by-side-going everywhere.
Question: Moving onto your second touchdown of the day on the kickoff return-I understand you actually fumbled on a similar play to start the game. Were you thinking about that at all as you prepared for your second chance?
Fells-Danzer: I knew I had made a mistake on the first kickoff by backing up to catch the ball instead of running forward to get it. I told myself throughout the whole game that I had to do something to make up for that. I told [teammates] Perry [Jones] and Raynard [Horne] that I would make up for it eventually. It just so happened that it put six points on the board.
Question: Do you remember the play at all, or was it all just a blur?
Fells-Danzer: I do remember it. It was exactly how we had planned. Instead of like on the first one though, this time I waited on the call from Perry to say, ‘you get the ball, you get the ball.’ I caught it and secured it. Then I looked for my first block, my first opening-I saw it, I took it, and then it was just one-on-one with the kicker. He actually slipped. It looked like I put a move on him, but I didn’t. I just ran until I touched the end zone.
Question: Did you hear your teammates cheering from the sideline, or were you too “in the zone” to think about it?
Fells-Danzer: I did hear everybody cheering, but for the most part, I was just thinking, ‘don’t get caught from behind.’ I just tried to put the pedal to the floor and keep going.
Question: I understand it was the second shortest return for a touchdown in school history, at only 70 yards – impressive enough because the coverage was on you quicker. Nevertheless, you had to be getting pretty tired at the end. Were your legs tying up at all?
Fells-Danzer: Naturally, my legs did tighten up, but I fought through it. It was pure adrenaline. I just gave it 100 percent until I got to the end zone.
Question: You were actually one of three Cavaliers who scored their first career touchdown against the Eagles, along with Trey Womack and Paul Freedman. Did that make it anymore special for you?
Fells-Danzer: It was very surreal. Everything happened so fast in the game, so until you actually sit back and reflect on it, that’s when you are allowed to say, ‘this happened.’ It’s just so humbling to know that there are teammates out there who give you support. Even if you don’t make a play, they’re still behind you.
Question: You were named ACC Specialist of the Week after your performance against Eastern Michigan. That has to be pretty surreal.
Fells-Danzer: It is, definitely. Coming from a small town in Culpeper, Virginia, and playing for Coach Martz-they say I’m ‘Culpeper’s finest,’ but I just say I’m from Culpeper and I play for them. To get an ACC honor like that is just one of the greatest things I could have.
Question: An experience like last Saturday might not have been possible had you not switched positions from linebacker to fullback during the offseason. How did you reach that decision?
Fells-Danzer: The majority of my football decisions come first with my family, and then it trickles down to the coaching staff to see if they approve. I called my grandfather first, because he’s been my motivation since I was in seventh grade and playing football. He said that if I made the choice to switch positions to just make sure I gave it 100 percent and gave it my all. That’s kind of stuck with me ever since.
Question: Did your grandfather play football as well, or is he just someone you turn to for advice?
Fells-Danzer: He never played, but he’s an adamant Pee-Wee coach. He still coaches football when he’s not at my games.
Question: You mentioned you never played Pee-Wee though, so you never had the chance to be on his team?
Fells-Danzer: No, I was usually either too old or too big to play, but seventh grade rolled around and I saw the opportunity to play.
Question: It must have been pretty special to have your grandfather there Saturday to see your touchdowns.
Fells-Danzer: It was great. He hasn’t missed a game since high school, and he’s been my moral support when I’m down. He’s helped me, my mom, just everybody as far as being there for us.”
Question: Back to the position switch though, was it difficult adjusting to fullback?
Fells-Danzer: It was-just learning the different position, learning the playbook, and learning how to adjust to it with game speed as well as just practice speed was tough.
Question: Did you have to make any significant changes during the offseason to get ready for your new role?
Fells-Danzer: I actually ended up dropping about 10 pounds because I was a little bit on the heavy side. That was the majority of the work. I wanted to feel better as I was playing, and it actually helped out in the long run.”
Question: Did you have any experience on the offensive side of the ball before this season?
Fells-Danzer: I did play offense in high school. I played a plethora of positions. I played quarterback my 10th-grade year, I was receiver when they asked me to. Running back, fullback-like here, I just did what the coach asked me to do.
Question: In addition to football, you also played three other sports in high school. Do you think that has also helped make you transition smoother?
Fells-Danzer: It has. Going to Culpeper High School, I played football, basketball, ran track, and did a year of baseball. Even with just that year of baseball, I learned a lot-like body control and being able to adjust to things on the run. I’m just fortunate that the coaches who coached me in those days were around to give me inspiring words.
Question: Coach London mentioned that you feel as though you have a new lease on life now with your new position on the team. Do you agree?
Fells Danzer: I do. It’s not everyday that you score two touchdowns. I just believe that great things can come about if you are patient, and I’ve been very patient. It just so happened that it’s paying off now.
Question: So does that make fullback your favorite position? Or kickoff returner? Or do you still like linebacker best?
Fells-Danzer: They’re all the same, because at the end of the day, you have the glory if you win the game.
Question: Let’s finish up with a few “quick hit” questions. Dream job?
Fells-Danzer: Scuba instructor.
Question: But I thought you were a drama major-you just have a passion for scuba diving?
Fells-Danzer: I actually don’t know how yet, but I want to try it. Being around the ocean when I was younger, I was just fascinated by it and what was actually out there. If I ever get the chance to actually go scuba diving and get the certification, I want to be an instructor one day.
Question: Moving on-favorite place to eat in Charlottesville?
Fells-Danzer: White Spot.
Question: What do you get there?
Fells-Danzer: Gus Burger.
Question: Favorite stuffed animal growing up?
Fells-Danzer: I had a few, but my favorite stuffed animal was probably The Beast from Beauty and The Beast. He was in his tuxedo from when he was dancing with Belle.
Question: Favorite Halloween costume when you were young?
Fells-Danzer: My bumblebee outfit. I was probably about four or five years old, and my mother dressed me up as a bumblebee. I had a big, plushy type outfit with yellow stripes. I had my face painted and everything. I even had wings.
Question: Have you decided what you’re going as this year?
Fells-Danzer: I’m shooting for a Ghostbuster. Hopefully, I can get four friends to dress as Ghostbusters with me.