Centreville (Va.) two-way athlete A.J. Turner has seen his recruiting pick up exponentially since his stellar junior season ended. In addition to helping his team win a state championship, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder totaled more than 1,300 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns as a running back, and 70 tackles and seven interceptions as a safety. Couple that production with sub-4.5 40-yard dash speed, and it's little wonder SEC, Big Ten and ACC schools have already started offering.
"My first two offers were from South Carolina and Virginia Tech, and then Old Dominion and Maryland just came in," said Turner, who is originally from Florida and moved to Virginia two years ago. "There's a lot of schools looking at me now. I know Duke is really interested and their coach said once Coach [Dave] Cutcliffe evaluates me an offer should be coming. And Virginia, North Carolina and a lot of schools around Virginia have been coming hard after me. Penn State, that's another one recruiting me hard."
Turner said Maryland was his most recent offer, which came in right before the dead period in late December. He hasn't spoken to a Terps staff member, but he said his coach informed him of the early verbal.
"It's kind of funny because I didn't know about Maryland until my coach texted me and said, ‘Congrats on the offer from Maryland,'" Turner said. "I was like, ‘Huh? I've never talked to them before?' But my coach said he talked to a Terps coach and they wanted to offer.
"I was kind of shocked because they didn't come by during [the open period]. They were in once last year, but I hadn't heard from them. I had sent them e-mails before, but they never really responded. But when they offered, I was definitely happy because even though they didn't contact me directly, it showed they were paying attention and really are interested."
The Florida native said his Centreville coach detailed the conversation he had with that UMD staff member.
"[Maryland] said I was really dynamic and they want me to be part of the program," said Turner, who mentioned that most schools want him for safety. "They said I'm a good person on and off the field and how I can bring a lot to the team."
Turner plans to visit College Park, Md., for the first time this winter at a junior day. He said he doesn't know much about the Terps other than the basics, but he wants to learn more.
"I really want to meet the coaches up there," he said. "And I just want to see what they're about. I mean, I'm from Florida, so I really don't know much about Maryland, Virginia, or the schools around here yet. I do know [Maryland] has good coaches, is moving to the Big Ten and it's a program that made a bowl this year. But I have to find out more."
The Centreville prospect hasn't researched Maryland yet, but he's had time to take a look at his two initial offers, South Carolina and Virginia Tech. USC was actually his first verbal, while Tech came in just days later.
"I'm definitely very interested in Va Tech and South Carolina. Those coaches have stayed in contact, I've called them and it's been a good relationship," Turner said. "The USC offer was great because we were just about to play in states [the state championship game], and their coach came to practice and offered. It was pretty awesome and meant a lot. My coach, he has a connection to the USC staff too, so that's a good thing.
"And Tech, I went to their camp in the summer and they said I had a lot of raw talent. Then a couple weeks ago [head coach] Bud Foster e-mailed me and let me know I had a full ride. He said I was a dynamic athlete and wanted me part of the Va Tech program. He said it's a great school and gives me a lot of opportunities educationally and athletically."
Turner has already seen both South Carolina and Virginia Tech, praising both. He attended games this fall at Tech, Penn State and Florida, and back in the summer he went to camps at PSU, South Carolina, Florida and Va. Tech.
This offseason, Turner said he's trying to see the interested schools he hasn't visited before. Those include Maryland, Old Dominion, Virginia and North Carolina, in addition to a return trip to State College, Pa.
"I'm definitely interested in all these schools looking at me, but in the end you can only go to one college," Turner said. "I grew up in Florida, and I always wanted to be a Gator since that was my favorite team, but as I've gotten older I'm open to expanding my horizons. So I'm going to take my time, take some visits and then just see who all [offers]."
Terps Looking at Emerging Va. Safety
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