December 19, 2008

Borton's Blog: U-M's potential game-Turner

TheWolverine.com's own Josh Helmholdt describes Michigan defensive backfield commitment Justin Turner as an exceptional athlete even among U-M's strong class, and one that "nobody's talking about." Massillon (Ohio) Washington coach Jason Hall is more than happy to rectify that situation.

Turner - Rivals.com's No. 3 safety prospect in the nation -- is 6-3 and up to around 194 pounds now, Hall noted. The four-star performer played cornerback on defense this season, but possesses the skills to move around and succeed at several spots, in the estimation of his coach.

"He can play anywhere," Hall insisted. "He can play safety, corner. Heck, he could be a receiver. I know he's headed for defense, but he could play anywhere. He's a legit 6-3, and very athletic."

"He's just electric. He had four or five interceptions for touchdowns. He had a number of one-handed grabs - he's got huge hands."

Turner also performed as a tailback on offense this year. Although relatively new to the spot, the senior racked up roughly 1,500 yards on the ground.

"He hasn't played running back and it was just exciting to watch him there," Hall said. "We don't play a light schedule here at Massillon. We play the best teams, and consistently he's been an explosive player for us."

Hall acknowledged he hadn't spoken with Turner since the resignation of Michigan defensive coordinator Scott Shafer. The Massillon coach did suggest that Turner was probably closer to the recruiter in his area, U-M assistant coach Bruce Tall.

Plus, Turner is not a recruit drawn to Michigan only by the lure of a new regime. He grew up dreaming about playing football in The Big House, and following in the footsteps of a high-profile Wolverine, Shawn Crable.

"Seeing Shawn as a role model when he was a kid and Shawn was playing here, then to see him go on and have success at Michigan, with the atmosphere … he talks about being at the games," Hall noted. "Even being at that Michigan-Duke basketball game a couple of weeks ago - there was so much excitement, and he's really excited about being there."

Crable redshirted as a freshman, partly due to injury. Turner may follow suit, but given his upside and Michigan's needs in the defensive backfield, he's a candidate to contribute early.

"The potential is definitely there," Hall said. "He's very athletic, very explosive. He's a fearsome hitter. If you watch him on the game film, he's lights out. He will come up and rack you. He's an explosive tackler.

"He could get a little bigger, but he's explosive. I think the potential is there. I believe he is going to have an impact in some capacity around there next year."

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