While he was a very good high school football player, there was no doubt Alan Turner was the less heralded part of the Junction City package deal that brought Arkansas prized defensive tackle Byran Jones.
Jones had a solid career – albeit an injury-plagued one for the Razorbacks – while Turner (6-0, 201) heads into his redshirt senior season after leading his team in tackles in 2013.
“It’s never a good sign when your safety is your leading tackler, but it was the truth,” Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said during last week’s SEC Media Days.
“… He is not a starter at the beginning of the year, but got better every day,” Bielema added. “Really bought into what we were asking him to do. Tremendous competitor. Playing with a lot of pride.
“I know that wearing that Hog on the side of his helmet means a lot to him,” Bielema continued. “He is a guy that I really think might be pushing himself into setting himself up for a special senior season.”
Turner, whose 97 tackles in 12 games last season did indeed lead his team while he also notched two interceptions, was honored to be brought to the SEC Media Days along with fellow seniors Trey Flowers and Brey Cook.
“I know there were a lot of people that didn’t think I would ever play much and here I am today (at the SEC Media Days),” Turner said. “I think it really is a testament to my belief in myself and just working hard every day.”
Turner redshirted his freshman season and then played in all 24 games in 2011 and 2012 – with a combined 12 tackles and an interception at Auburn as a redshirt sophomore.
“I just never gave up on myself, just kept pushing, waiting for my opportunity,” Turner said. “These coaches gave me that opportunity and I tried to make the most of it.”
Turner had a team-high 16 tackles at Mississippi State, one of three games the Razorbacks believe they let get away during a 4-8 season.
“Last year things didn’t go the way we wanted them to, but through watching film, we saw there were a lot of little things that hurt us because maybe it was mental breakdown here for there from a player,” Turner said. “The little things really can hurt because it can lead to big plays, which eventually led us to a lot of losses.
“We are in the film room and we noticed it and we are just trying to embrace it and correct those things,” Turner added. “We are just trying to take one day at a time and continue to contextualize forward.”
Turner had 63 tackles and 8 interceptions as a senior at Junction City while helping his team to win a second-straight Class 2A state title.
He had stand alone offers from Louisiana Tech and Baylor while Arkansas and Auburn were on board if both came along.
“I believed in myself and knew that I would one day prove it to everybody else,” Turner said. “Plus we both wanted to be Razorbacks. I’m so glad we signed with Arkansas.”
Jones (who had 156 career tackles) and Turner have certainly made Junction City proud and the Dragons are set to continue their presence on the Arkansas roster next season.
That’s because current Junction City defensive end Jamario Bell (6-6, 230) is a 2015 pledge to the Razorbacks and will give head coach David Carpenter another Razorback.
“That means a lot of me, it’s where it all started for me,” Turner said. “I really respect him and he’s a great program and their football program has got me to where I am today – a hard worker. Junction City will always be a part of my life.”
Arkansas has a loaded schedule this season and Turner said he believes the Razorbacks will be up to the challenge this season.
“We are going to be better and we seniors are going to go out this season with some pride,” Turner said. “The last two years have been very tough – especially after all the success we had the two years before that.
“So now it is time to get this thing totally turned around,” Turner added. “These last two years have motivated us and pushed us. We have the right coaches, we have the right players, we have the right mindset. We are not going to let the state down again.”
Alan Turner brings down LSU's Jarvis Landry during last season's game in Baton Rouge.
Arkansas' Turner Poised For Special Season
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