Whirlwind Courtship for New Tiger Signee

Joseph Turner and his coach discuss the cornerback's decision to sign with the Tigers.

San Mateo, Calif.--In some cases Auburn recruits football prospects for two years before they sign with the Tigers. In the case of cornerback Joseph Turner the recruiting courtship was about two days.

"On Monday my coaches called me and told me that Auburn was interested," said Turner, a two-year starter at cornerback for College of San Mateo, a junior college located on the southwest side of San Francisco Bay, below the city of San Francisco and north of San Jose.

"That same day they ended up tripping me out," he said, noting he agreed to fly cross country for an official visit to check out Coach Gus Malzahn's program.

"I had a great time when I was there," Turner said. "It was a great experience."

College of San Mateo defensive coordinator Tim Tulloch said that Auburn is getting an athletic defensive back with excellent size who performed very well in the California juco ranks and has the potential to improve.

"He is a phenomenal kid," Tulloch said of his player who committed to the Tigers on Wednesday. "He always has a smile on his face. He has a great attitude. He is energetic, fun to be around and a real pleasure to coach so we are excited for him. It is a great opportunity."

Adding defensive backs, and cornerbacks in particular, is a priority for Auburn's 2014 signee class. The Tigers signed high school All-Americans Nick Ruffin and Kalvaraz Bessent to play cornerback, but Bessent's status with the Tigers is in limbo due to legal troubles after being arrested last Friday night in Florida.

Bessent, a four-star recruit from Camden County High in south Georgia, and three other occupants were charged with felonies related to marijuana possession following a traffic stop in north Florida. Three days later the Tigers began recruiting Turner.

A football and basketball standout at Sacramento High School, Turner was primarily focused on hoops until his coaches convinced him that he would be a natural as a defensive back in football.

Turner began playing the sport for Sacramento High as a sophomore and earned all-league honors at free safety as a junior and senior. In junior college the 6-1, 180-pounder made the conversion to cornerback and was a two-year starter.

The prospect notes he was "all in" to sign with Washington State last summer and ended his recruiting then with plans to enroll at Wazzou in January. However, he still needed to finish one more class to earn his juco degree so Washington State didn't bring him to Pullman in January.

Expecting to sign with Washington State on the Feb. 5th national signing day, that did not happen as Wazzou decided not to send the prospect scholarship papers.

"For a moment I was a bit discouraged because I was set to go there," he said. "When I found out the week before signing day I wasn't going to sign there my coach told me to keep my head high and learn from this situation. I have been doing that by working hard on the field and in the classroom."

It didn't take long for other colleges to inquire about Turner's availability. In addition to Auburn another SEC program, Texas A&M, was also interested.

"I was going to visit Texas A&M depending on how the situation went with Auburn," he said. "Auburn ended up offering me the morning of my flight back home. Me and my coach came to the conclusion if Auburn ended up offering me before I got back I was going to stick with them. If they didn't offer me I was going to visit Texas A&M."

Turner is taking two classes at San Mateo and plans to transfer to Auburn in June. Although they didn't know it at the time, his coach pointed out that the cornerback could have actually transferred to a Division I college in January.

"He is clear," Tulloch said. "We thought he needed one extra class, but when we submitted all of his stuff we found out that he was actually a qualifier out of high school so he is good now."

Tulloch noted that he is excited to see how good of a player Turner can be for the Tigers. "He is just scratching the surface as far as what type of corner he can be," the coach pointed out. "He is kind of in that Richard Sherman mold with really good ball skills."

The new Auburn signee said that when he first watched the Tigers begin their run to the national title game this past season he was actually checking out their opponent.

"I watched Auburn play Washington State in game one," Turner recalls. "As close as it was I didn't think Auburn was going to be as good as it was. Later in the season when I noticed they were still undefeated I was like, ‘Wow, they are turning their program around this year.' I did watch Auburn, but not so much because my focus was on Washington State."

Despite his change of plans the 24th member of the 2014 Auburn signee class is upbeat about how things worked out. "At this point I am glad to be a War Eagle and I am fired up to be able contribute to the team," he said.

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