Justus Terry: From viral middle school sensation to solidly committed ‘Dawg in the 2025 class

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest with 4-star rising junior DT commitment Justus “Jay’ Terry. He ranks as the nation’s No. 4 DL and the No. 35 overall prospect for 2025 on the 247Sports Composite ratings.


Justus “Jay” Terry garnered some national buzz even before he was known as a very talented young player at Manchester High School in Douglasville.

It was nothing shocking. Terry was already at the 6-foot-5 mark and weighed 240 pounds in the fall of his eighth-grade season.

“I didn’t expect that or wasn’t meaning for it to go viral,” Terry said. “I wasn’t going to post it. But my brother - shout out to him - told me that I needed to post it. When I posted it, my phone just instantly started ringing. I was shocked. Because I never have been a part of anything like that before.”

“But when things were going crazy and I was getting hype, I never really bought into it. I just still kept locked in and stayed focused.”

Perhaps the best thing here is he’s taken his game and his name from a bright future to an even better present: Terry, just a rising junior, is a strong commitment to Georgia in the 2025 class. He’s also regarded as the nation’s No. 35 overall recruit for the 2025 cycle.

He’s up to 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds. With a college-ready body and still two more seasons of Friday nights to go.

It sounds like the odds of him flipping from the ‘Dawgs are as strong as anyone throwing him around on the field.

Or finding another 16-year-old football physique anywhere that looks as college ready as his does.

“It would take a lot for another school to get me away from Georgia,” he said.

He really means that.

“I’ve been watching Georgia since I was growing up,” Terry said. “That’s just where I always wanted to play. When I went there and got to see the brotherhood and that family bond, it sealed the deal.”

Why did he choose the ‘Dawgs so early?

“The home feeling,” Terry said. “The brotherhood. The family bond. It was all I was looking for.”

He kept bringing up that “brotherhood” bond among the defensive line. How they hold one another accountable. Everyone tries to pull one another along and take responsibility for everybody playing on Sundays one day.

Terry has picked up the nickname “Jay” over the years. But he might as well be known as “The Barber.”

He said he cuts more heads than he has workouts during the average week. That’s maybe 20 haircuts a week. His going rate is $10 per cut.

“I can really cut hair,” he said. “I’m good at it.”

Call him the 5-star barber on his way to being a Bulldog. He was self-taught and said he’s been cutting hair for about a year now.

Terry never watched a video on how to cut hair. He just felt the clippers and got the feeling of it all. He does a lot of temp fades. That’s very popular among his clients.

“Cutting hair runs through the family and I just wanted to start making my own money,” he said. “Then I just started cutting hair. It was an easy way for me to stay out of trouble, stay out of the way and just make some money.”

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Georgia football recruiting: What drives Justus Terry?

Wondering why those muscles are so big? Wondering why “Jay” never misses workouts?

It starts with a special “Grandad” in his family. That’s Edward Terry. He’s in his mid-60s.

“He has health problems,” Terry said. “But he said ‘Jay I want to see you make it one day so you can help me’ and ever since then that stuck with me. I think about that. I think about my Grandad in everything I do. I’ve got to make it to be able to help him out one day with all those problems. I’ve got to do it.”

He said his grandfather is dealing with issues with his prostate and his kidneys.

“He means a lot to me,” Terry said. “Basically I grew up with him and around him a lot. I stayed with him growing up. He means a whole lot to me.”

Terry reports his bench press is already at 350 pounds.

“I plan on getting to 400 pounds on the bench press by the end of this semester,” Terry said. “By June. Just watch me. I’m going to get there.”

Check out his sophomore year HUDL below. The first few clips of his No. 18 knifing into the backfield are enough to shut the film off and offer him alone.

The rising junior also plays basketball for Manchester. That athleticism definitely shows up on tape.

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How does Georgia plan to use Justus Terry?

Defensive line coaching ace Tray Scott has laid out a plan for Terry during his time in Athens. He looks like a future two-year starter at the ‘3′ technique on the defensive front.

Terry will be about 300 pounds by the time he’s a college sophomore and will still have his athleticism. That’s an ideal “trench monster” for Scott in Athens.

“He keeps talking about how I can be an athlete across the defensive line,” Terry said. “Play across the whole D-line.”

He could also play the “5″ technique. When he was ready to commit to Georgia, he actually told running backs coach Dell McGee first that he wanted to be a ‘Dawg.

“He was just with me at the moment,” Terry said. “He was the one that recruited me first. When I first got the offer from Georgia, it was through coach Dell McGee. Then I saw him leaving one day at Georgia for the day and I said that I thought I was ready to commit. He was like okay let’s make it happen then.”

Terry shared his commitment edit on social media less than a day later. That’s how quickly the ‘Dawgs wanted him to announce as a big building block for the 2025 class.

Georgia currently holds the impressive distinction of holding the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for both the 2024 and 2025 cycles. That is at the same time that the ‘Dawgs are the back-to-back national champions. The odds of another school holding all those feats at the same time in the near future sound about as low as Terry not signing with the ‘Dawgs.

“I just had that feeling about Georgia,” Terry said. “I was just sitting there looking out and visualizing myself playing there. Making plays. It was just like this was where I wanted to be. Always wanted to be.”

If somebody asked him when he was eight years old which school he’d like to play for, he would have said Georgia.

In a recruiting landscape where the ‘Dawgs are prime contenders for any player from California to Connecticut, that still really means a lot in the program. Those homegrown ‘Dawgs that have always wanted to play between the hedges.

Terry also shapes up as a pretty tough kid. He said he dislocated his thumb during basketball season but saw no need to miss the Under Armour Next Atlanta camp for it.

“I had popped it out of place,” he said. “Playing basketball and then during one-on-one drills here at the camp I kind of popped it out again. But it will be alright. This isn’t anything I can’t handle.”

“It was an old injury from basketball season. They had popped it back into place and it was in the process of healing but I wasn’t going to let it stop me from coming here and showing my skills.”

It was already taped up for the camp. But then he hit somebody with a long arm technique during one-on-ones and felt it pop out of place again.

As Terry tells that story, he gestures down to his arms. When he does, the bible verse tattooed on his arm is impossible to miss. He had Philippians 4:13 stained on his arm two weeks ago.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Terry said. “It just motivates me. It tells me what I can always do as long as I put my faith and trust in Christ.”

His mother, Daphne Hardnett, said Justus has always loved football. He was playing up when he was very young. Even too young. They signed off on a waiver so he could play below the age limit.

“The biggest thing I’m proud of with Justus is his humbleness,” Hardnett said. “Yes. Very humble. You know how some kids get excited about what they do? Even me. I get excited about what Justus does, but he doesn’t even get excited as I get for him. I’m jumping up and down. About these offers. He just takes it and rolls with it.”

She’s very cool with him making that move to be a ‘Dawg.

“I always wanted him to make this college decision for himself,” she said. “But I love Georgia. I have always loved Georgia.”

4-star DL Justus Terry is in the 2025 class. He plays for Manchester High in Georgia. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation


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