His coach gushes about him. Teams won't stop offering him and neither appears to be even close to coming to a halt. Don't try to convince Barry Turner he's popular though or even just possibly one of the best at his position. Of the attention, he's still in disbelief. "I never thought anything like this would happen." Turner said of the deluge of written offers. "I was always just hoping that maybe I could play for someone or just try to get on the field."
That hope is already a reality, schools like Tennesse, South Carolina, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Florida, Miami, Nebraska and well, the list is longer than what Turner can recall, but suffice it to say, Turner doesn't have to worry about the chance to play, rather where he's going to play in the future.
That's something the 6'3",230 lbs. standout can do quite well. Playing both ways as a junior, Turner stood out, but on defense, he didn't just stand out, he was near gaudy in his production, ranking second on the team in total tackles with approximately 90, but that included a whopping 15 sacks on the year.
Point of fact, Turner is being recruited predominately as a defensive player, but just where he'll play is currently up in the air. "I know some that want me as a linebacker because of my speed." Turner stated of his "consistent" 4.6/40. "For me though, I just want to play, so whatever position, whatever side, it really doesn't matter to me."
As open as Turner is to the position, he's equally open as to a possible school for the future. In fact, you might say that it's not even on his mind. "To tell you the truth, all I have been thinking about is making my last year in high school as special as I can." he said. "I want to enjoy it with my teammates and just make sure I don't miss anything along the way."
Turner may not miss, but the schools recruiting him certainly won't miss as well, or at least the team that gets this Tennessee standout in the end.
That brings up a good point though in that most schools don't have a tremendous amount of look getting players out of the Volunteer state that the Volunteers really want. Mostly, it's easy because kids in Tennessee grew up loving Tennessee, hence they would eventually be at Tennessee.
You might find Barry's thoughts a little surprising, because he grew up not as big a Tennessee fan as you might think. "I like UT, but it wasn't my favorite team growing up." he said. "I used to want to make people mad when I was younger, so I'd say they weren't my favorite team and when Nebraska played Tennessee, I was saying that I was a Nebraska fan."
"Well, Nebraska just drilled them and I guess I have been a fan ever since."
Ok, before you Volunteer fans starting getting mad and before you Husker fans start drooling at the mouth, that was then and "then" most certainly isn't "now". Turner stated that there are a lot of teams he likes, both Nebraska and Tennessee included, but by no means is anyone and he emphasized "anyone" a favorite or even in a top 5, 10 or whatever.
He's not looking at recruiting right now.
"Oh, I'm not naming any favorites." Barry said with a slight laugh. "I'm not going to get all that stuff started. I am totally wide-open right now and I mean wide-open. I don't consider any team above any other, because like I said, I am not trying to consider them at all."
"I have one year of high school left and I want to enjoy it. I'll worry about the visits and all that during the season."
Barry's season will be one where they will try to get back to the state-title game. Having lost a slew of key starters, it's going to be a long hard road back to the top. Turner doesn't mind though because he stated this is the time when he can step up and be more than just a player everyone wants, but someone to look up to as well. "It's going to be a tough season if we want to make it back." Barry said. "That's when you step up and those people that are leaders step up and those that aren't step up and be leaders. And it's not just about me or any one person, because one person can't win any games. It's about all of us trying for the same goal."
"I'm going to miss that here, so I want to enjoy every minute I can. I'll worry about the recruiting another time."
Turner's rising stock has taken him from anonymity to possibly one of the top 50 players in the south and should project either as a defensive end or middle linebacker. Turner currently has a 3.5 GPA.
Steve Ryan can be reached at SteveRyan@bigredreport.com or 402-730-5619