Little-known LB Billy Turner Commits to BYU

In 30 years as a football coach at Archbishop Riordan High School (Calif.), <b>Frank Oross</b> has seen three outstanding NFL pros and three current major college athletes come and go but, hype aside, he insists his barely-recruited, all-everything linebacker who verbally committed to BYU last week "is one of the great ones."

Meet Billy Turner, athlete extraordinaire, whose on-the-field prowess and exploits belie the fact only BYU offered a scholarship and Arizona was after him until they fired the former head coach and his staff.

In sports parlance, BYU has seemingly landed a "steal" in the 6-0, 220-pound linebacker with 4.5 speed that is way, way, way under the recruiting radar. How? Why? Perhaps it was Archbishop Riordan's dismal 4-6 season record. "I believe that's one of the main reasons Billy wasn't noticed. We had him playing everywhere. If he was just at running back or linebacker, he would have had much better stats," his coach speculated.

Regardless, here is no denying the fact the Cougars landed an exceptional athlete that will likely justify their confidence and belief in him. Consider his senior season stats:

• Turner was the Crusaders' only captain and emotional team leader as a 16-year-old this past season.
• He returned five (5) kick-off's for touchdowns and another two (2) punt returns for touchdowns.
• He rushed for 1,029 yards as a running back and had more than 400 yards as a receiver.
• He threw for two touchdowns.
• He recorded nine (9) sacks and more than 90 tackles as a linebacker/defensive end.
• He was named an All-League linebacker in the WCAL (West Catholic Athletic League).

According to Coach Oross, Turner's future, barring injury, will likely hold more than his own weight alongside former Riordan Crusaders in the NFL and college ranks like DB Donald Strickland (Colorado/Indianapolis Colts), RB Derrick Loville (Oregon/San Francisco 49ers), RB Steve Sewell (Oklahoma/Denver Broncos), RB/DB Eric Wright (USC), LB Randy Sims (City College of San Francisco/Arizona) and TE Jamir Davis (City College of San Francisco/Kentucky)

"Billy's going to be bigger (in stature) than all those guys. He's going to be great on the defensive side of the ball. I've seen all the great ones come and go and Billy is one of the great ones," his coach gushed. "Back in the day when you needed someone to play anything well, this (Turner) is the kid. I wish I had him as an 18-year-old."

Neither Coach Oross nor Turner know how BYU even found out about him. "I always send out tapes of the players and Billy was listed on the Forbes recruit database, but BYU assistant Steve Kaufusi came calling last year and stayed with him. "I don't know how he did, but thank God he did," Turner said.

Turner took his official visit to Provo the weekend of Jan. 9 and by Monday, Jan. 12, he and his mother, Nicole Shaw-Owens, decided he would commit to the Cougars.

"I loved everything about BYU on my visit. It was just a beautiful experience and I couldn't resist," Turner said today. "It's like a blessing to me to go to a college of such prestige like BYU."

Coming from a fairly structured private Catholic school environment, Turner said he has no problems with BYU's unique Honor Code. "I have no problem with it at all. It's pretty much like at home, school wise."

Turner is academically qualified and plans to move to Provo in late June to begin intensive informal summer workouts with his new teammates. He said defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall called him after he committed and told him to "get ready."

Having recently turned 17-years-old, his coach thought Turner might redshirt his first year, but he said Mendenhall and linebacker coach Barry Lamb indicated otherwise. "When they were talking to me, they were talking about me being ready to go in the fall.

"I'm ready. I can't wait until June comes and I'm there. I'm just happy and proud to be a Cougar now. I know they expect you to put out your best and I want to be the best," Turner concluded.

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