January 12, 2005

Is Turner the nation's best player?

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - He has long been considered one of the nation's elite players. He has slowly risen in each set of Rivals.com national rankings. And this week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl he has made his claim as one of the nation's top players, if not the best overall.

Nashville Goodpasture five-star wide receiver Patrick Turner currently stands as the No. 10 overall player in the nation and the No. 2 wide receiver in the nation, but that will soon be changing.

"It is just great coming over here and meeting new people from all over the country," Turner said.

"It is great getting to play with all of these guys from Florida and all over the whole East, it's a great competition. It just an honor to be able to go out and compete with all of these guys and I just want to thank God for the opportunity."

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Turner has been wowing people in practice all week long.

Everyone from the recruiting analysts, to the coaches, to the players on the field, to the casual observer all agree with one thing - Turner is the best player on the field and no one else is even close. He has risen head and shoulders above the rest and could stake a claim to the No. 2 spot in the Rivals100.

"Patrick is unbelievable," East quarterback Greg Paulus said.

"He is special. I've never seen anyone like him. If he keeps his head on straight he is going to do some great things. He just makes those one-handed catches look so easy. He can go up and get the ball like no one I have ever seen before. Pat is a great guy too and just really down to earth, he's definitely the total package."

Turner has been taking all of the defensive backs to the woodshed all week long. Only Kenneth Phillips, who could be moved into the nation's top five next ranking period, has been able to do anything with Turner all week. During today's practice he drew a double team from Justin King and Adam Myers-White, but Turner made the catch in the end zone and made it look easy in the process.

It's hard to get Turner to brag on himself much, but he did talk about what his strengths were and described his playing style.

"I think that my strongest point is getting off the line of scrimmage," Turner said.

"I like to use my hands as well, I'm a very physical player. I have an advantage over most guys I face because my arms are so long it allows me to distance myself and it also gives me that extra bit of height if I have to go up over a guy for the ball.

"I also think I have decent speed. I don't think I am good enough at anything though to just quit working it on it all together. There is always room for improvement and you can always learn more and I just like to soak up as much as I can."

The comparison's to USC's Mike Williams have already begun and Turner is flattered by them, but also acknowledge's he has a lot to improve upon before he reaches that level.

"Mike Williams is a great player," Turner said. "We are pretty close to the same size and speed. A lot of people tell me that we look a lot alike physically and I can see that. I hope that I can be as good as Mike someday, but he was on a different planet at USC and I know I will have to work as hard as possible before anyone could truly compare me to him."

Ironically USC is one of three schools that Turner will select from on Saturday, though it is really only a two horse race at this point.

"I am going to choose between USC, Miami and Tennessee," Turner said. "It is pretty much just going to be Tennessee or USC, though. When I announce that is going to be it. I have already taken visits to them and I have already made the decision in my head. It is only a matter of announcing it at this point."

Turner isn't tipping his hand at all to whether he will be a Trojan or a Vol. Not even the players get a feel for where he may be headed, but Turner did explain why he might pick either of the two schools.

"Picking Tennessee wouldn't just be for the next four years, it would be a life changing decision," Turner said.

"I know that if I went there and I got hurt that the whole fan base would show me love. I have family that lives in Tennessee and it isn't that far from home. I know that if I go there I have family close by that loves me no matter what. Coach Trooper Taylor and Fulmer are great guys that I fit in real well with.

"At most programs you have to worry about a coach getting fired or leaving, but at Tennessee you know who is going to be the coach, Fulmer isn't going anywhere. The quarterback situation there is great. They already have two great quarterbacks and Crompton is on the way. I have gotten to know him some this week and he is a great guy."

Then there are the Trojans?

"Just look at USC and what they have done the past two years," Turner said. "They have a chance to three peat which is something that no team in the history of college football has ever done. Coach Carroll is such a down to earth guy and his team reflects his personality, which shows how much those guys respect him.

"One thing that stands out about them is that they aren't scared to throw to a freshman at all. Two years ago it was Mike Williams and Kerry Colbert, then this year it was Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith and next year it could be Patrick Turner and DeSean Jackson."



 

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