Terrell Bynum is ready now.
When spring practice started last year, he was just a few months removed from a January surgery on his thumb. Back then, Bynum was mostly focused on rebuilding his hand strength. He was timid, content to remain in the back and stay quiet.
But this year already feels different for the redshirt sophomore who appeared relaxed and comfortable as he spoke to the media on Monday, even entertaining reporters with tales of his first time driving in the snow a few months ago.
Entering the spring healthy, he said, has made all the difference. Unlike last year, he could work on himself during the winter. By the time the Huskies opened practice last week, Bynum felt completely prepared.
“I was able to do everything that I wanted to,” said Bynum, who played in 10 games last season but didn’t catch a pass. “Get in the film room, catch as many balls as I needed to, run routes. Just do everything.”
And if his confidence wasn’t already trending up, his performance last Wednesday would’ve done the trick.
During one 11-on-11 period, Bynum caught a deep ball from Jacob Eason in stride down the right sideline. He also hauled in a long pass from redshirt freshman Jacob Sirmon in the same spot. Bynum and redshirt freshman Kyler Gordon both jumped for the ball and got their hands on it. But it was Bynum who wrestled it away as they crashed to the field, and his effort earned big cheers from the offense.
While his teammates were excited, Bynum chose a different word to describe his reaction: Relief.
“Because I’ve really been grinding day in and day out,” Bynum said. “So for me to finally see some progress, it’s a little bit of a relief.”
Offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan can see that progress. Last year, he said, Bynum was thinking too much. But in his third season with the program, Bynum has found some consistency. He doesn’t have to pause anymore.
“That mental image comes to mind and then you just go play,” Hamdan said, “as opposed to thinking, ‘OK, what am I doing here? What’s the the defense?’ and before you know it, the ball is snapped the play is already over.”
“I think for all those guys, it’s really what we’re talking about at any position: What’s that mental picture? Process it in about seven seconds and just cut it loose.”
Things started to click toward the end of last season, Bynum said. Earlier in the year, he was overcompensating because of his injury. But as the months went on, catching the ball became second nature again.
It helped, he said, to go against players like Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller last season. Not only did UW’s talented secondary present a challenge, but the experienced defensive backs also helped guide him.
“They give you feedback on what I need to work on,” Bynum said, “so I got in the film room, started working on what I needed to work on and got better that way.”
Bynum now has a new coach to help to change his mindset. While Bynum offered nothing but praise for former wide receivers coach Matt Lubick, he also said new position coach Junior Adams brings a different energy.
Adams’ focus? Having fun — and talking a little trash.
“He told us to just have fun,” Bynum said. “Don’t just go out there trying to think too much. Go out there and talk stuff against the defense. Have fun. We’re not out there just lackadaisical. It’s actually a fun energy.
“He’s telling us to make plays and not be like mannequins. He wants us to have a little energy, have a little edge to us, which makes it fun.”
That emphasis completely changes the game, Bynum said.
“It just makes us play faster,” he said. “We’re not thinking too much. We’re trying to compete more than just trying to get the plays right, if that makes sense. We’re actually trying to beat the guy across from us and compete.”