JUCO lineman should help immediately

Athletes always list a chance for immediate playing time at the top of their list, when considering schools in recruiting. And in this case Alabama's need for help on the defensive line helped lure one of the best junior college prospects to the Tide.

Originally from Ed White High School in Jacksonville, where in 2002 as a prep senior he was rated one of the top prospects in Florida, Chris Turner (6-3 ½, 287, 4.8) spent the past two seasons at Northwest Mississippi Community College. Turner was looking for a big-time program where he could step in and make an immediate impact.

He took an official visit to Alabama earlier this month. Then after carefully weighing his options, Turner committed to sign with the Tide today.

"I wanted to be able to come in and compete from Day one," Turner said in explaining his decision to TheInsiders.com. "Alabama is losing a lot on the front four."

Turner originally signed a national letter of intent with Florida State as a highly-touted recruit, with Florida being his second choice at that time. Both of those schools recruited him this time around as well. Turner also seriously considered LSU, Memphis, Mississippi State and Texas Tech.

After originally signing with Florida State out of high school, Turner competed for the last two seasons at Northwest Mississippi Community College. (photo courtesy of NWMCC)

"Alabama's a young team on the rise," Turner said, "and I want to be a part of it."

During his first season at NWMCC, Turner totaled 58 tackles, 13 TFLs, nine quarterback sacks, 27 quarterback pressures, nine tipped passes, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He followed that up this past year with 66 tackles and 13 sacks.

Turner played defensive end at Northwest, but he could easily slide down inside and handle tackle.

Northwest defensive coordinator Jeff Byrd talked about Turner in an earlier interview. "I think he's great. He had offers from several big-time D-I programs."

Several indeed. As a prep senior Turner was basically pursued by a Who's Who of football schools, including Florida State, Miami, Florida, Georgia, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, South Carolina, North Carolina, LSU, Southern Miss, Ohio State, and Southern Cal.

At that time Turner flirted with schools out of state, but his recruitment came down to an in-state battle between the Seminoles and Gators.

Among the highlights on Turner's prep resume':

  • led his team with 12 sacks and recorded 59 tackles as a senior
  • was selected to play in both the CaliFlorida and National All-Star games
  • was ranked the No. 1 defensive tackle in Florida by the Orlando Sentinel
  • a PrepStar Dream Team selection
  • ranked 30th on the Sentinel's Florida Top 100 list
  • Max Emfinger ranked Turner as the No. 6 noseguard in the country
  • ranked 14th-best nose guard nationally
  • named to the Florida Kids Top 100 team (No. 34 overall)
  • earned Florida Times-Union Super 75, Super 24 and Super 11 honors
  • also named to the Sunshine Network All-Gridiron First Team

Two weeks ago Turner visited the Bama campus on an official visit. (photo courtesy of TiderInsider.com)

Turner, who says that he's now gotten his bench press up to 425 pounds and squat max up to 600, decided that this time around Alabama was the best fit for his talents.

"I felt very comfortable there on the official visit," Turner said, "Extremely comfortable."

Turner described Tide Head Coach as a "down to earth guy," and credits Bama's defensive coordinator with helping him decide on the Tide. "I knew Coach Joe Kines before from him being at FSU," Turner explained.

Turner will ink his Tide scholarship on National Signing Day in February and later graduate from NWCC in May.

"I'm all set to qualify," he said. "I'll enroll (at Alabama) in July."

Defensive end/defensive tackle Chris Turner is the 16th prospect to commit to Alabama as part of the 2004 recruiting class.

Other Tide commitments include:

Turner was ranked as Florida's best D-Tackle prospect out of high school.

RECRUITING NOTES: Alabama is allowed to bring in 19 new scholarshipped players this fall. The Tide is expected to sign as many as 22 players in February, anticipating that several will not become qualified. It's also possible that one or more players may be asked to delay entry into The University until the following January, counting against 2005 scholarship numbers, depending on how qualifying issues play out.

Read all of the recent recruiting stories on Alabama recruits from TheInsiders.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Andrew Bone, of TheInsiders.com contributed significantly to this report.

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