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Escaping the East: North Texas wide receivers and best friends continue football careers together

Escaping the East: North Texas wide receivers and best friends continue football careers together

North Texas wide recievers Terian Goree (3) and O'Keeron Rutherford are both from Carthage High School in East Texas. Colin Mitchell

Escaping the East: North Texas wide receivers and best friends continue football careers together
November 02
17:36 2016

After most North Texas football practices, you will find two wide receivers joking around and working on fundamentals.

Sophomores Terian Goree and O’Keeron Rutherford like to toss the ball around after practice, something they’ve done for years. The two have been friends for as long as they can remember. Their senior year of high school, the pair decided they would go to college together.

The question just became, which college would offer both of them? From day one of the recruiting process, the duo knew they would end up playing football together, but Rutherford almost missed his call – literally.

Goree had already decided on North Texas, and assistant coach Tommy Perry wanted to add Rutherford. Rutherford knew that with a call from the Mean Green, he would join his friend in Denton.

North Texas wide receivers Terian Goree (3) and O'Keeron Rutherford stand next to each other after practice. Colin Mitchell

North Texas wide receivers Terian Goree (3) and O’Keeron Rutherford stand next to each other after practice. Colin Mitchell

But after a couple of phone calls with no answer, Perry had trouble getting in touch with his recruit.

“O’Kee didn’t have his phone, man,” Goree said with a laugh. “I had to call his momma.”

Goree called Rutherford’s mother and delivered the exciting news. Perry was offering Rutherford a spot on the roster.

Needless to say, it was time for Rutherford to update his contact information.

The tandem arrived in 2014 and were both red-shirted as freshmen. Their debuts would have to wait.

Escaping East Texas

It was a difficult road to Denton for Goree and Rutherford. Coming from East Texas, both of them had to play in one of the most competitive football regions in the state, just ask head coach Seth Littrell.

“It’s amazing,” Littrell said. “You’ll find unbelievable players in January that have no offers [in East Texas]. They have a chip on their shoulder. They’re competitive.”

They won a state title during their time at Carthage High School — the ultimate honor in the lone star state. The duo started on the defensive side of the ball as corners, and really began to bond early in their high school careers.

Despite dazzling on the gridiron, Goree and Rutherford both wanted to get out of Carthage, an area known to chew people up and spit them out if they aren’t careful.

“There’s really nothing out there,” Rutherford said. “Everybody came up from nothing. Everybody has that drive to be something.”

For most, football is the driving force to get out of East Texas. While football was important to Goree and Rutherford, so was class and their education.

But for some of their classmates and friends, football was life.

“We have homeboys [where football] is all they have,” Goree said. “They come to school for six months, and after the state game, they’re done with school. In East Texas, nobody is guaranteed a scholarship.”

The football culture carries on for those who are able to rise above the rest, and Goree and Rutherford have plenty of support back home.

In a town like Carthage with a population of just over 6,000, people learn names when a state championship is won. So the two North Texas wideouts have a plan to repay the people who unconditionally supported them.

“The mission is to make it and give back,” Rutherford said. “We saw the struggle every day.”

Sophomore wide reciever Terian Goree (3) recieves a pass during the first drive against Middle Tennessee State University. North Texas went on to score on their first drive, however, they didnt score again until the fourth quarter. Colin Mitchell

Sophomore wide receiver Terian Goree (3) receives a pass during the first drive against Middle Tennessee State University. North Texas went on to score on their first drive, however, they didn’t score again until the fourth quarter. Colin Mitchell

It all comes back to football, though, and using the sport to escape the biggest enemy in East Texas – the streets. The piney woods and cracked pavement out east can give, but also take.

Goree and Rutherford saw high school teammates turn down Football Bowl Subdivision offers because they were content with the money they were making at home. They wanted to stick to what they knew.

“The only thing stopping you is where you’re at,” Goree said. “It can keep you there, but football can get you out. It all comes back to football.”

Goree and Rutherford have gotten out, and they have numbers to show it. While Rutherford’s participation has been limited, he has notched three catches this season for 45 yards. Goree has been more heavily involved.

He caught his first touchdown pass last season against Western Kentucky University and has blossomed into a target for freshman quarterback Mason Fine. He has hauled in 24 catches for 235 yards and one touchdown.

The duo toughed out the lows of last year but is not immune to the frustrations of a 1-11 season, and the firing of their first head coach at North Texas. Goree and Rutherford discussed leaving North Texas, but never put the wheels in motion.

“Last year I would come out here and tell [the coaches] I didn’t want to be here,” Goree said. “We were 0-6, just lost coach, and knew we weren’t going anywhere.”

Rutherford felt the same.

“Last year it would be hot, and I didn’t want to be here,” Rutherford said. “I would be jogging. Not playing my best.”

With the Mean Green now at 4-4 and in an air raid offense under Littrell, the two are glad they stayed. With postseason hopes still very much alive and the two have just one goal in mind.

“Everybody wants a bowl game,” Goree said.

Winning a bowl game together would be the icing on the cake for the lifelong best friends. Because all they want to take a championship ring back to their hometown.

“It would mean a lot to represent for Carthage,” Rutherford said. “We’re blessed, very blessed with this coaching staff.”

Featured Image: North Texas wide receivers Terian Goree (3) and O’Keeron Rutherford are both from Carthage High School in East Texas. Colin Mitchell

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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1 Comment

  1. Kennel Up
    Kennel Up November 03, 03:48

    What air raid offense? Jeff Wilson is the offense since they benched Alec Morris.

    Reply to this comment

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