Pendleton is the biggest player on the Gamecocks’ roster, a man-mountain who got first chance to play just this week. The team lists him at 6-feet, 329 pounds, although he’ll tell you it’s closer to 6-3 and 339.
Whatever tale the tape tells, he thoroughly enjoys his status as a big man on campus.
“I love being the big guy, I couldn’t imagine myself being small,” he said. “I like how when I walk into class they look at me all strange and stuff – until they actually get to know me.”
Everything about Pendleton is big. The 2011 OVC Championship ring that adorns his massive hand is a size 16. He wears a size 15 shoe, takes a 48 in slacks and 20 in the collar. His helmet is extra large and his gloves are 3X. Even the super-size watch he wears takes extra links.
He may be big, but he fits comfortably into the 2012 Impala he drives around campus.
“He has girth,” JSU head coach Jack Crowe said. “That doesn’t mean he’s fat. It means he’s got wideness.”
Sometimes it’s lonely being such a big attraction.
“Some people are hesitant to speak to me, especially girls,” Pendleton said. “Some of them are like, ‘He’s so big,’ but once they actually see me joke around … I’m really a nice person.”
That is, until you get him on the football field. Once between the lines, he goes from a jolly big man to a mean machine.
Pendleton made his college debut Saturday against Southeast Missouri. He played a good part of SEMO’s first-quarter 99-yard touchdown drive after the Redhawks reached midfield and wound up getting about a dozen snaps in the game.
He got his shot after Crowe opened the door to competition on the entire defensive front after that unit was manhandled in the loss to Eastern Kentucky. Defensive line coach Davern Williams said Pendleton did “a pretty good job.”
He wasn’t credited with a tackle in the game, but that’s not necessarily what he was in there to do. With his size, he commands attention from two blockers, and that’s a valuable element given the pass-happy teams the Gamecocks are about to face over the next month.
“He pushes the pocket back so it gives us a chance to actually read our blocks and get off our blocks and escape and try to get to the ball,” junior defensive tackle Barry Stafford said.
Pendleton has always been a big kid. He wasn’t as big as he is now when he arrived at JSU, but he was bigger than he is just a year ago.
He arrived at JSU in 2010 weighing 315 pounds -- after playing his senior season at Tanner at 345 – and surprisingly gained 14 pounds during camp. He spent the year on the scout team.
He started dressing out last year and shortly after the Eastern Illinois game he stepped on a sprinkler head during practice and tore the meniscus in his right knee that required season-ending surgery.
He showed up for camp this year a hefty 358, but with the help of more healthy eating habits mentored and monitored by Gamecocks new personal development assistant Thomas Twitty got to a svelte 329 at picture day and is now 339.
And he carries it well. His best time in the 40 has been a 5.0.
“It was just my determination and my will, like how bad do I want to play,” he said. “If I didn’t lose the weight I wasn’t going to play. I really wanted to get on the field, so I was like, look, even though I’m hungry, I’m going to go in here and eat a couple pieces of a banana, curb my appetite a little bit and then wake up in the morning and go get something to eat.
“That’s how I did it. No pizza, no real greasy foods; I had to cut all that out. Everybody in the caf was eating burgers and grilled cheese; I got a roast beef sandwich on wheat with a whole plate of broccoli with nothing on it. That’s how I had to eat. All my friends were eating real good and I’m just eating all this green stuff.”
Pendleton played both ways at Tanner, but began his JSU career as an offensive lineman, where one would figure a player of his size might be more at home. In fact, the Gamecocks’ five other 300-pounders are all offensive linemen. The largest 300-pounders in six of the other eight OVC programs are offensive linemen.
But Pendleton was moved to defense in the spring and he doesn’t want to go back. Crowe called him the type player a team could create defensive schemes for.
“Don’t let his size fool you,” Williams said. “For his size, he has some athletic ability. And I’ll tell you, it ain’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. It’s a mentality.
“These days you have big bodies and when you get a big body like him you see what he’s best at, you see where his mentality is, and I think he’s more of an aggressive player playing defense. He could be just as aggressive playing offense, but it doesn’t matter, as long as a kid wants to go out there and give you 100 percent no matter where you put him.
“The smallest nose I ever coached was 5-9, 257 and he went out there and fought every doggoned play. It doesn’t matter the size of a man as long as you go out there and are willing to listen, willing to concentrate and willing to focus on what I’m teaching you, you’ll get it done.”
OVC 300-Pounders By School*
- Austin Peay - 9
- Eastern Illinois - 4
- Eastern Kentucky - 6
- Jax State - 6
- Murray State - 2
- SE Missouri - 6
- Tenn. State - 12
- Tenn. Tech - 4
- UT Martin - 3
- Austin Peay – Chris Hartman, Jr. OG, 6-6, 320
- Eastern Illinois – Eric Varela, Sr., OT 6-6, 311
- Eastern Kentucky – Ryan Garretson, Fr. OL, 6-4, 325
- Jax State – Terrence Pendleton, R-So. NG, 6-0, 339
- Murray State – Kamalie Matthews, So. DT, 6-2, 303
- SE Missouri – Traven Mable, R.-Fr. OG, 6-2, 325
- Tenn. State – Dean DeMardre, R-Sr. OG, 6-4, 396
- Tenn. Tech – Justin Ivory, R-Fr. OL, 6-6, 340
- UT Martin – Montori Hughes, Sr. DL, 6-4, 330