Terry Wambolt might have you rethinking the linebacker stereotype.
He’s listed at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, and admits to being “like five-six”, but the senior middle linebacker from Nipomo doesn’t let his size affect how he plays — much like his one of his favorite players, the diminutive Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles.
Wambolt anchored Nipomo’s defense in the 27-16 loss to Atascadero on Friday, interrupting Greyhound running lanes all night and frustrating Atascadero’s large offensive line.
Early in the third quarter, the Greyhounds elected to punt on fourth down. Wambolt lined up on the right side, found a gap to knife through to block the kick and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown.
“I saw the gap and instincts came in and took it and then I was like ‘oh’… I didn’t think I would get it. It took a nice bounce and scoop and score. End zone.”
The Titans’ defensive effort came up short, as the constant feeding of running backs RJ Reusche and Marc Martin tired out the smaller Nipomo defense late in the game.
Wambolt recorded 170 total tackles (which includes solo and assisted) last year on his way to a Tribune All-County first team nod. He started where his left off this year, entering the fourth game of the season against Atascadero with 54 tackles — the next closest on the team has 33.
“He makes 15 to 20 tackles a game,” coach Tony Dodge said. “I know County Players of the Year don’t usually go to defensive guys, but I see no reason why Terry Wambolt shouldn’t be in that conversation. He’s amazing.”
When asked how he gets to the ball so quickly, Wambolt answered “I’m fast and small, linemen have a hard time getting to me. It’s speed and practice. Coach Wells has been coaching me up really well since last year.”
It is Wambolt’s second year at middle linebacker, after switching from outside linebacker.
Wambolt will hope to shore up the Titan’s (2-3) defense against Arroyo Grande (4-1) next week in a non-conference challenge.