For the Texas coaching staff to offer a prospect a
scholarship without a visit should speak volumes of how the staff feels about
that athlete. That’s exactly the case with Josh Turner – the Under Armour
All-America cornerback from Oklahoma City Millwood who took a liking to the
Longhorns long before he became commit No. 21 in the 2011 recruiting class. Not
only did his commitment fill a need, but he’s got the kind of stuff the
Longhorns covet in cornerbacks.
There’s something to be said when the Texas staff ventures across state lines to recruit a prospect given the extremely fertile recruiting landscape in the Lone Star State. For the second year in a row, the Longhorns went after the top prospect from the state of Oklahoma and the staff managed to follow up nabbing Under Armour All-American Demarco Cobbs by scooping up Turner.
The 6-foot, 175-pound cornerback was viewed as the lockdown cornerback the staff coveted to add to a secondary that even without Turner boasted three ESPNU 150 selections. The two-way playmaker chose the Longhorns nearly two weeks ago over in-state power Oklahoma, his childhood favorite Miami, Alabama and Nebraska among many others.
I’ve had the chance recently to sit down and breakdown film from Turner’s junior season and after watching the tape, it’s pretty obvious why the staff wanted him as bad as they did.
What I Liked:
Texas likes long, explosive athletes in the secondary and that’s exactly what they are getting in Turner. He’s a long-armed corner whose reactive quickness is about as good as you’ll find in the secondary.
One thing I look for in cornerbacks is hips and Turner’s got them in a big way. He’s very fluid and has shown the ability to flip his hips and run with receivers. When you combine his hips with the explosive twitch he displays, that’s when you have the making of a potential special player at the position.
He’s played a lot of offense and because he’s used to having the ball in his hands and battling for it as a wide receiver, he’s very good at finishing plays. He really does a tremendous job of high-pointing the football and his big play ability on offense flips over to the other side of the ball when the ball is in his hands. His explosiveness and burst also allows him to break in front of receivers and make plays on the move.
The thing I didn’t expect to see when I watched his tape is he’s willing to strike people and be the aggressor. His tackling form is pretty good for a high school cornerback and because he’s got such good burst when he can drive off of his back foot and make a play on something in front of him he can really bring it to ball carriers on occasion.
He’s got the kind of recovery speed and acceleration when he’s able to stick his foot in the ground and go that he’s never out of a play. He takes good angles running guys down and can get to the football in a hurry. He’s one of those rare guys who can overcompensate for his athletic ability on the field and get away with things lesser athletes can’t.
Turner’s scheme versatility also makes him an elite level prospect. He’s shown he can press a little bit and he plays a lot of man, he’s shown he can handle zone coverages and he can also slide back and play safety because of his ability to fill the alley, be the aggressor and his recovery speed to cover over the top.
When you combine all of these skills he brings to the table, it’s pretty easy to see why Turner was offered without having made a visit to Texas.
Areas for Improvement:
The guy I compare Turner to is Curtis Brown. They’ve got similar builds and skill sets and like Brown, Turner is going need some time to adjust to playing cornerback full time. He’s a special athlete but there are a few things he needs to fix.
He’s got a lot of wasted movement in his backpedal and isn’t as fluid as I’ve seen some of the elite corners in Texas in this class be like Charles Jackson, Leroy Scott or Tevin Mitchell. I’d like to see him sink his hips a little bit more and really work on his overall footwork.
I think he’s also going need to add some bulk in his upper body and really use his arm length to his advantage. I’ve seen him press, but at the next level he’s really going to need work on jamming guys at the line and show the ability to reroute guys. If he can add that element to his game he could feasibly become a true lockdown corner in my opinion.
I love the way he plays the football, but I don’t like the way Turner sometimes uses his body in one-on-one situations, especially in the red zone. This again is where the initial jam comes into play because I’d love to see him really body up on guys and make the quarterback have to make a perfect throw to get the ball to his man. He’s going to need to learn (like the great corners do) to play the ball and his man.
My Grade for Turner: A
There’s a lot Turner needs to work on from a technical standpoint, but athletically he’s as gifted as anyone Texas has recruited in the past decade, including Aaron Williams. What separates those two in my mind is Williams had more polish at the same stage and even in high school had a reputation as a head hunter.
At any rate, I think Turner’s got all of the tools to really be the lockdown cornerback the staff was looking for in this class. Leroy Scott is more polished but I think Turner’s length and ability as a finisher makes his ceiling higher.
The main question about Turner, as it was when Curtis Brown stepped on campus, is how long will it take for this elite athlete to develop into the type of technical man-to-man cornerback the staff needs?
If he can really clean up the technical side of his game and learn the nuances of playing the position, then I think he’ll be able to not only contribute but play significant snaps early in his career. He’s got the makings of to be a special cornerback at Texas, he just needs some polish.