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Looking Back At Former Steelers Cornerback Terry Hawthorne

Nowadays, Terry Hawthorne is sharing his knowledge as the cornerbacks coach for the Southern Illinois Salukis. Over a decade ago, Hawthorne was a fifth-round pick out of Illinois and a player many expected to become an important contributor for the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary.

During his career with the Fighting Illini, Hawthorne played in 44 games with 34 starts. He would accumulate 163 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, six interceptions, 28 passes defended, and a sack. He would twice earn All-Big Ten honorable mention and was the anchor of a defense that was ranked seventh nationally in total defense during the 2011.

His aggressive and instinctive style would gain the attention of the Steelers, whose cornerback room at the time included veteran Ike Taylor, upstart Cortez Allen, William Gay, Curtis Brown, and Josh Victorian.

What led to Hawthorne's downfall? Injuries. Prior to his junior season in 2011, Hawthorne had foot surgery. Despite an impressive showing at the 2013 NFL Combine, Hawthorne was unable to finish the drills at this Pro Day due to a lingering knee issue. Perhaps the biggest red flag was the knee procedure he underwent to remove bone chips, and he was unable to finish OTAs that year.

The accumulation of knee ailments would eventually lead to his being released before the start of 2013. Hawthorne would go on to become an assistant coach at East St. Louis Senior High School in East St. Louis, Illinois, and briefly play for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL before resuming his post-football career with the University of Illinois, Arkansas, and Southern Illinois.

Even though things may not have worked out as a professional football player, he has seemingly found his true calling after it.

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