Turner now a Wildcat

Signing day may have been five and a half months ago, but the Wildcat coaching staff has not quit trying to add to the class of 2004. Barring something unexpected, DE Jonathan Turner is the 24th and final piece of the Class of 2004.

Since February 4th, the Wildcats have added at least four players to the recruiting class. Jonathan Turner joins Dremayne McElroy, Brad Wood and Bill Wacholz in joining the team at various stages of the spring and summer.

Like the other three late signees, Turner's road to Tucson was filled with twists and turns. He originally signed with USC out of Corona (Calif.), but academic problems sidelined him for the 2003 season. He tried to enroll at USC in the spring semester, but the NCAA Clearinghouse failed to clear him. Sometime between March and July Turner soured on the Trojans and began to look elsewhere.

Turner won't say exactly what made him drop the Trojans, stating only that it "didn't work out" with USC. He was a firm commit as recently as March, but is now firmly committed to Arizona.

"I'm a Wildcat now," Turner said.

He played linebacker in high school, but was rated as the fifth best defensive end in the West and will start his Wildcat career as a rush lineman.

"His base position was inside linebacker but sometimes we moved him outside or played him at defensive end and let him rush the passer," said his high school coach John Brandom. "He's such a versatile kid and can do a lot of things on the field. He's good at dropping in to coverage and covering people but he's very good rushing the passer."

At over 160 pounds he has great size, but he is also very athletic. In addition to playing linebacker, Turner played tailback as well rushing for 1,083 yards and 14 scores. On defense he had 130 tackles and 7 ½ sacks.

Turner wasn't originally interested in Arizona. Brandom brought up the Wildcats but Turner was not interested until he learned more about the new coaching staff in the Old Pueblo.

"He told me about Coach Stoops and what there doing out there," Turner said. "I decided to take a trip."

He visited this past weekend and pulled the trigger before leaving campus. He signed a Letter of Intent and scholarship papers. All he has to do is fill out an application, have his mother sign everything and send everything in.

"I liked everything about it," Turner said of his visit.

USC planned to use Turner as an outside linebacker, but the Wildcats seem to favor him on the line.

"They are talking about putting me at defensive end," Turner explained. "I have a chance to come in and compete right away. We'll see, it could be tough because I was out so long."

Turner had been working out at his high school. His size and speed is still very good, but he has not been on a football field in over 18 months.

His signing probably mean that junior college defensive tackle Byron Smith won't join the team this fall. It looks as if Smith's legal troubles will work itself out, but maybe not in time for the start of camp. Smith has three years to play two, so expect Smith to go to Pima for a semester and then enroll at Arizona in the spring.

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