Panther Profile: Ryan Turnley

With the conclusion of spring practice the Pantherdigest will be profiling the members of the class of 2008 that will land in Oakland this year. You will read several interesting stories about the future Panthers including Hopewell offensive tackle Ryan Turnley.

Tino Sunseri now has competition among the players in the 2008 recruiting class for the "Born To Be a Panther" award.

It is offensive tackle Ryan Turnley of Hopewell High School.

We say this knowing full well Sunseri is the son of former Pittsburgh linebacker and interim head coach Sal Sunseri.

However, Turnley not only grew up a die-hard Pitt fan, but after he attended the last game at Pitt Stadium as a nine year old (has it really been that long?), he went to the Original Hot Dog Shop with none other than fellow Hopewell grad Tony Dorsett.

"My family and Jared Rains family went to the game, and Jared's dad (Danny) went to high school with Tony Dorsett," said Turnley. Rains was a teammate of Turnley's at Hopewell who signed with Cincinnati.

"Mr. Raines and Mr. Dorsett met up after the game then we gave him a ride. I think it was ‘The O.'

"I was nine years old. It was a miracle for me. [Dorsett] was my idol. After all, we did play at ‘Tony Dorsett Stadium!'

"I'm a huge Pitt fan. My whole family is from Pittsburgh. I go to every game!"

If that story wasn't enough, Turnley is the epitome of "The Pittsburgh Kid." He spends his weekend days with his friends at the Waterfront or Kennywood and evenings walking around and getting a bite to eat in Oakland or the South Side.

Add to that the fact he knows many members of the Pitt recruiting class such as Sunseri, whom he met at a camp, and Aliquippa's Jonathan Baldwin, an old athletic rival since the fourth grade, and one wonders if Turnley won't be giving tours of the area to his out-of-town teammates.

"I don't know about giving tours, but I can take them out if they want to go," Turnley said.

Surprisingly, Turnley never considered himself a major college football prospect until after his junior season.

He'd been a three-sport athlete and was considered enough of a presence on the basketball court he was once asked to keep Herb Pope off the boards, though his efforts weren't quite as successful as he'd have liked.

But following the Vikings' (9-2) season in 2006 his stock rose.

"After my junior year in high school my coach made a tape up of me and said ‘That's not too bad.' We sent it out and went from there. Before that I just went out and played for fun," Turnley said.

Offers started flowing in from Wisconsin, Duke, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Maryland and more, but they didn't stand much of a chance once Pitt called.

"There were never any awkward moments at all," Turnley said regarding his introductory relationships with Panthers coaches. "It's like the coaching staff knew me all my life. [Greg] Gatuso is hysterical, but a serious football coach. I'm excited!"

He will likely major in business.

Turnley lists his guilty pleasure as watching the "Back to the Future" trilogy religiously, though he doesn't aspire to own a classic DeLorean, nor has his fandom of the films branched off into watching "Taxi" or "Family Ties" reruns.

"I watch it once a week. I've loved it since the first time it came out," Turnley said.

Gee, wasn't "Back to the Future" the marketing slogan of the 1993 Panthers football team?

The karma continues.

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