Jerry Thrower was a baseball player in his youth, but went all in on another sport when his grandson took a different path.
“He always watched all the sports -- basketball, baseball and football,” Phillips senior Terryon Thrower said of his grandfather. “But once he figured out football was my thing, that’s all he talked about.”
The pair would watch games together, with Jerry making sure Terryon knew why William Perry was called “Refrigerator” and Terryon letting his granddad know about Mitch Trubisky and Roquan Smith.
“We politicked all the time over all different teams -- quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers,” Terryon Thrower said.
Now though, Terryon Thrower has to go forward without one of his biggest cheerleaders. Shortly after Phillips opened its season with a win at Detroit Cass Tech on Saturday, Terryon Thrower learned his grandfather had died.
“That was my guy,” Terryon Thrower said. “Closest thing I got to a father figure outside of my parents.
“Growing up over here, not everybody believes that you’re going to the NFL, make it out. And he was one of the few people who always told me, ‘Stick with your dreams, stay on top of your grades, you’re going to the (National Football) League. The Bears need you.’”
- Phillips quarterback Terryon Thrower (11) gets chased out of the pocket. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times
- Phillips quarterback Terryon Thrower rolls out for a pass in practice. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times
- Phillips quarterback Terryon Thrower waits and listens for a play during practice. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times
- Phillips quarterback Terryon Thrower throws a short pass during practice. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times
- Phillips coach Troy McAllister talks to his starting quarterback Terryon Thrower during practice. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times
Thrower aims to live up to his grandfather’s expectations as he embarks on his first full season as a starter for the No. 9 Wildcats.
Last year, Thrower stepped in when starting quarterback Leonard Smith missed the majority of the regular season with an injury.
“Getting six or seven starts and some state playoff experience has been great for Terryon,” said Phillips coach Troy McAllister, who praised his quarterback’s more mature outlook.
“He’s recognized some mistakes he’s made in his life,” McAllister said. “He’s using the lessons he’s learned to help the youing players in the program.”
Thrower went 7-for-10 for just over 100 yards against Cass Tech. He didn’t need to put up big numbers in a game the Wildcats led 20-0 early behind three rushing touchdowns from Anthony Anderson.
What McAllister liked, though, was Thrower’s “command of the offense and the team.”
“Last year was a learning experience,” Thrower said. “I’ve done a lot of offseason work ... on stuff from coverages to physical thing to the mental part.”
At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Thrower has the build to play at the next level. He’s been getting mostly Division II interest, but D-I schools such as Temple and Kansas State are starting to take note as well.
He’ll take recruiting as it comes. For now his focus is on helping the Wildcats make another long playoff run -- they’ve gone to the quarterfinals or beyond six years in a row.
And he’s mindful of honoring the legacy of his biggest fan.
“My granddad was amazing,” Thrower said. “Anything I could ask for, he’d do it. As far as the support, he was there always.”
The Wildcats travel to East St. Louis on Saturday to play St. Louis St. Mary’s. Phillips will make their local debut on Sept. 13 against Taft at Mandrake Park.