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Get ‘Up To Speed’ With Terrence Stephens — Stanford DL Once Auditioned for ‘American Idol,’ Loves *NSYNC, [INTERVIEW]

Terrence Stephens
Steve Dykes, Getty Images

If you don’t follow Stanford football, you probably haven’t heard Terrence Stephens’ name. That’s because he typically stays in the trenches and doesn’t get the attention that the playmakers do. But even with limited play — he missed the final three games of the 2012 season due to personal and eligibility issues — the 6’2”, 305-pound defensive tackle had 10 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in seven starts during his senior season for the Cardinal, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors.

Despite his success on the field, it’s off the field that Stephens really shines — when he sings. With a tenor as impressive as his Pro Day weight room performance (34 reps at 225 pounds), Stephens loves to warble. At 16, he auditioned for ‘American Idol,’ advancing to the second round. The next year, as a high school junior, he performed the national anthem at the Maryland state wrestling championships in 2008 before losing in the finals (yes, he was a top wrestler in high school and a top student). He even performed with teammates during the 2009 Sun Bowl talent show before Stanford’s match-up against Oklahoma.

In preparation for next week’s NFL Draft, we got “Up to Speed” with the Stanford defensive tackle, who could have an impact at the next level as an undrafted rookie free agent.

What famous woman do you hope is watching you play?

Michelle Obama. She just exudes radiance and class, and I hope she watches.

What’s the first thing you’ll buy if/when you sign your first pro contract?

The first thing I’m going to buy has to be a house for my mom. It’s just been my mom and myself my whole life, and she’s been stuck in the same raggedy town for quite a long time so she’s made a lot of sacrifices for me. It’s very cliché, but it’s gotta go to mom.

What’s your guilty pleasure song on your iPod?

*NSYNC. “Gone.” I was the biggest *NSYNC fan growing up. When I was younger, I’d sing and that was one of the songs I sang all the time when I was seven or eight years-old. Now there’s only three people who know about it.

What’s something you can do in practice but could never do in a game?

Sing, probably. If I started singing in the middle of a game, people would wonder, “Uhhhh…what kind of dude are you? We’re playing football.” But in practice I can’t shut up. I’m always talking; I’m always chirping; it’s just the way to get nervous energy out, and it’s kind of the way to be relaxed. Singing for me is something I’ve done since I was little, so it’s something that brings me to that peace. I do it more just to be relaxed and calm.

What’s the position you’d never play?

I could never play a punt returner. Punt returning is probably one of the most scary positions on the field. You’ve got to look up and look down and look up and look down and still catch a ball. That doesn’t work for me. You’ve got three people in your face trying to do so many things at once, it just doesn’t work for me.

Will you collect your own memorabilia?

Of course! But the only problem is that my mom will probably beat me to it. So I can’t really collect something that’s not going to be there.

What’s your dream car?

I like Audis. I really like Audis. They’re not too expensive; they’re not cheap looking. They’re just sleek looking. I’d probably get an Audi truck. Nothing too out of the park, but it would look really nice. Once you get it, it’s about how you make it look.

What was your favorite poster on your wall as a kid?

Harry Potter. Every kid has a poster of Harry Potter, right? I went to Stanford, cut me some slack here!

Next: Get 'Up To Speed' With Mike James of Miami

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