Heels eye Calif. linebacker

North Carolina is showing increased interest in a firey West Coast linebacker, and the Tar Heels are in his top five.

Most kids would love to spend four years of high school in the balmy, sunshine-filled state of California, where most people have year-round tans. Spending four years of college there would probably be a blast, too.

But if a person's goal has nothing to do with spending lazy days at the beach, cruising up and down the pacific coast highways or chasing Cali-girls on the weekend; then California is not the place to be.

Linebacker Jason Turner has no interest in staying around to catch waves and collect sun rays. The 6-2, 220-pound senior from Saint Francis High in La Canada (Calif.), talks like he can't wait to get away from the state he currently calls home.

Of course, after talking to him, it's easy to see why he doesn't fit in.

He sports a shaven head and spits words of fire when he talks about his passion. There is not doubt where his heart and his mind are. It's all about football.

Turner is about as intense an 18-year-old kid as you will find. He isn't afraid to tell you that he despises the people his age that have laid-back attitudes. In fact, it makes him mad. That's where football comes in handy.

"I don't really like going to school that much," he said, "so after school, I get to beat kids up on the field. I have decent grades – I just get really bored in class – football provides me with an outlet."

Turner lists Kansas State, Washington, North Carolina, Oregon and Colorado State as his top five schools. He has only visited Oregon and was impressed with the Ducks' facilities. However, he would like to see his other favorites before making a decision.

"All my friends are going to other places – just all over – so I will have no friends left here," he said. "I don't really like California that much."

If North Carolina fans are lucky he could end up in Chapel Hill next fall.

"I like the [ACC] a lot and I can see myself playing at UNC," Turner told Inside Carolina Thursday afternoon. "I just talked to Casey Clausen's dad and he said people in the South are great people. It seems that kids from California do well out there – I saw some UNC games and I think I could be a linebacker there."

Saint Francis head coach Jim Bonds said football consumes Turner's life, which is exactly what UNC coach John Bunting wants to hear.

"[Jason's] dad has been a coach at the Pop Warner, high school and now junior college level," Bonds said. "You can tell he has been around it on Friday night – he always seems to be there before they can get someone to block him from making a play."

Not only is he a playmaker, but he also has speed and strength which can be attributed to extra hours in the weight room.

"Strongest guy on our team – a real weigh room nut," Bonds said. "We lift here three times a week, but he will lift at home with his dad at night."

The results yield a 385 bench, and a combined 1,165-pound total in the three major lifts (bench press, power clean and squat).

Speed wise, he has been clocked at 4.71 in the 40, but Turner could care less what the stopwatch says.

"I have great instincts and my speed is good," Turner said. "I don't believe in that 40 stuff – if speed in the 40 was everything, you'd have a lot of track stars playing football."

Saint Francis is 3-2 this season, while Turner has amassed 60 total tackles, five sacks and six pass breakups. On the other side of the ball, as a fullback, he has rushed 23 times for 140 yards and one touchdown.

Being physical is the thing Turner loves most about football and he has been involved with tackle football since he was seven years old. Another reason he loves the game is because of his dad, who is now a coach at West Los Angeles Junior College.

"Dad has talked to the UNC coaches, but he doesn't want to lead me anywhere," Turner said. "I've been around football all my life – and he has taught me things – it has made it easy for me to learn from other coaches because of that."

For the moment no decision is expected and most likely it will be January before one is reached. That will allow Turner some time to visit schools after he finishes his season.

"Right now I only have one team and that is Saint Francis. I am not going to worry about any other team until after our season is done."

Bonds said he has spoken with Turner about making his decision, but said he was not sure how big of a role he would play in that choice.

"I talked to him a bit about it," Bonds said. "He has expressed interest in North Carolina recently. He is a mature kid and he is not afraid to leave home."

North Carolina has been sending information to Turner, and Bonds said they have requested game film to better evaluate Turner's talent.

"Out here there is a lot going on and it's not really a college atmosphere here," Bonds said. "KSU is high on him. I don't think distance will have any factor."

Turner's Stats:
Three-year starter
Bench: 385
Squat: 475
Power Clean: 305
40-Yd. Dash: 4.71
Vertical: 30"
Junior Season-
Tackles: 106
Sacks: 4
Int's: 3

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