It’s not easy to be the next Jarvis Baxter. The Oklahoma wide receiver took the long, winding road to Norman that included being a walk-on for the first couple of months with the Sooners.
Eventually he earned the scholarship, but it was a process. It was a grind, and it was a major test not all can pass.
Wide receiver Reggie Turner is hoping to be the next, hoping to be that preferred walk-on for the Sooners in 2016 that earns the scholarship just like Baxter did.
Originally from Louisiana, Turner went to high school at Pasadena (Texas) Memorial as part of the 2014 class. His size was no doubt the one thing major schools looked at as to why they couldn’t take a chance on him.
Turner said he’s 5-foot-9 and 171 pounds now so there’s no telling how small he was coming out of high school. A few schools took a chance late with Turner but there was no room when all the numbers were crunched.
He was hopeful to land at a Pac-12 school in the end so he went to a junior college in California, but it didn’t pan out so he came back home.
Turner transferred to Blinn junior college in Texas, which of course was the home of OU senior wide receiver Dede Westbrook. He went through spring ball with Blinn last year and seemed to be on the right course before running into some academic struggles.
“When I found out I wasn’t ineligible at Blinn, I thought that was the end of me,” Turner said. “My dad, my mom, they helped me get through it all. They helped me stay on track when I could have easily given up.”
Turner has put the dedication in the classroom and is hoping to duplicate the success of Austin Roberts from last year as well. Roberts needed to put the work in academically before he could call OU his home last summer. Turner is in the same boat.
With his goal in his sights, Turner’s attitude is a lot different compared to what it was before.
“I know I can make a big impact,” Turner said. “I see this as Oklahoma giving me a chance when it had no reason to do so. I’m going to make the most of it.”
Turner’s OU connection stems from another walk-on, defensive back Earnest Gardner. Turner also knows Samaje Perine and Dede Westbrook from his trials along the way, but Gardner has been the link.
When Turner visited last November to see the Sooners take on Iowa State, he stayed with Gardner for the weekend.
That trip allowed Turner to get a feel of what his future could be like as long as he stays on the right path. It was the eye-opening experience he needed.
“After that visit, I knew that was the place I wanted to be,” Turner said. “I’m not trying to go anywhere else. I feel like I have a great opportunity.”
Turner said he has been clocked at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash to go with his 33-inch vertical leap. He knows he has to stand out because of his size, and that’s what he says he does in terms of his speed and getting separation from defenders.
Turner was back in Norman two weeks ago for the OU spring game and nothing has changed the feelings he had back in November. Continue to put the work in academically and be ready for any chance that comes in the fall. If it all happens, he’ll have three years of eligibility remaining.
He admits he didn’t always make the best decisions. Coming from a high school that wasn’t accustomed to the recruiting process and with nobody to really guide him through it, he made some missteps. But to get a potential second chance at a place like OU? There are worse outcomes.
“I’m going to go in, work hard and rise above the crowd,” Turner said. “God has put me in this position for a reason. I’m thankful to even have this opportunity.”