Defensive Tackle Julius Turner Capitalizes on Red-Shirt Year with Rutgers Football

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Julius Turner has come a long way since Rutgers defensive line coach Shane Burnham questioned his abilities last year. The red-shirt freshman defensive tackle continues on a path to playing t ime.

There were times in 2016 where Julius Turner's position coach questioned signing him at all. Those questions are gone after a more focused Turner stepped up in his first spring camp at Rutgers.

When defensive line coach Shane Brunham discussed Turner this spring, he said, “if you would have asked me six months ago, did we make a mistake?” Turner understood the criticisms and took it to heart.

“I wasn't ready last year,” Turner said. “I'll tell you that's 100 percent true. Coach (Kenny Parker) got me right with what I'm doing in the weight room. That was the first step forward. Mentally, physically, I wasn't ready. Coach Burnham red-shirted me because of that, so I took it in.”

Turner thought about instant playing time like every incoming college freshman. A red-shirt season, however, was best for business.

“Spring was good this year,” said Turner, who backed up at defensive tackle. “I really got in my playbook. I feel like I got coached up personally by coach Burnham every day to get better. I think it's fair to say I had a good spring. I thank him for red-shirting me so I can be even better this year. My get off (is better), my hands are faster, my feet are better. I'm improving.”

Turner officially flipped to Rutgers on Signing Day last year. He debuted on field in a Rutgers uniform at last month's spring game.

“It meant a lot, man,” Turner said. “I've been thinking and dreaming about it. It was just a taste but I'm looking forward to the real game day. Freshman year has been great. I had some downfalls and some upcomings. I learned a lot. Coming back from last year, I'll be ready to play this year.”

What does Turner have to do in training camp to earn playing time?

“I got way stronger in my legs,” Turner said. “Coach KP always talks about maintaining my body and getting lean. As I go through the summer, I'll be ready to do that. This summer, I need to get faster, get better, play better football. I'm looking forward to this season. As long as my coaches stay on me and I keep it up, I'm looking forward to playing this year.”

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