When it comes to overall productivity, you would hard press to find any high school football player in the state better than Arkansas linebacker commit A.J. Turner.
Take this stat line last Friday night for example: The East Poinsett County standout had 30 tackles (yes, 30), rushed 11 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns and caught a two-point conversion in a 34-14 home win over McCrory.
For good measure, Turner (6-3, 215) – ranked as Hawgs Illustrated's top player in the state - threw a couple of key blocks for others to score and also played on all the special teams.
"I don't come out of the game," Turner said. "I would get mad if I had to come out. I don't want to just sit around not doing anything. I am in good enough condition to play every play every game."
Obviously the thing that jumps out the most is the 30 tackles, which really shouldn't be that shocking when you consider Turner had a state-leading 171 last season.
He had 28 tackles for lost yardage last season, caused five fumbles and took an interception to the house.
He is on pace to top all those numbers in 2011.
"I watch a lot of film to get prepared for our games," Turner said. "I felt like in this game I was always a step ahead of their offense. I felt like when they lined up, I could call out the play. It was like I knew what they were going to do from just watching the film. I just tried to shed my blocker, get to the ball and make the play."
Turner's season-opening effort was special in its own right – especially when you consider he played just the first half in a 57-6 blasting of Palestine-Wheatley.
He had 15 tackles, scored on touchdown runs of 8 and 12 yards, caught a 48-yard touchdown reception and took an interception back 57 yards for a touchdown in his two quarters of action.
He has hopes of adding a state football championship to the basketball one he and current Razorback hoopster Rashad Madden led EPC to last spring.
"I've started off okay this season," Turner said in a major understatement. "The big thing is we have won our two games. That is what is most important."
Turner is one of eight players in Arkansas that have been nominated to play in the 2012 U.S. Army All American game in San Antonio on Saturday, Jan. 7.
He joins fellow Razorback commits also nominated in wide receiver Jalen Cobb of Warren, Bearden athlete Defonta Lowe and Pottsville offensive lineman Jeremy Ward.
The others nominated include Clemson commit Zac Brooks of Jonesboro, Conway defensive back Elijah White and quarterbacks Fredi Knighten of Pulaski Academy and Neal Burcham of Greenbrier.
The organizers of the game are currently touring passing out the actual invitations to the game.
"It's just a big honor to get nominated and would be great to actually play in the game," Turner said. "I'm from such a small town (Lepanto) that it's great to get it some recognition."
He took in the Razorbacks' season-opening win over Missouri State in Fayetteville.
"I love the atmosphere and the defense is just being very aggressive and playing great," Turner said. "I can't wait to be a part of that."
After Turner committed to Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Nebraska all made inquiries about him visiting their schools.
"It's nice that they are recruiting me, but I tell them all the same thing," Turner said. "I'm a Razorback and that's not going to change."
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