Most of our focus in watching the third and final day of Stanford's camp last week surrounded the impressive collection of kickers and punters assembled. There was one skilled player on Saturday who did heavily impress, however. Long Beach (Calif.) Cabrillo High School cornerback Marcus Turner was on the Cardinal radar as a result of his junior film, but he sat below the highest level on the cornerback recruiting board. His camp performance last Saturday rewrote the evaluation of the Stanford coaches, with Turner displaying good speed, athleticism, good ball skills and an absence of fear in playing with contact.
The 6'0" 180-pound athlete, who recently ran a 4.5 40 at Arizona State's camp, had a sense that his stock surged in Stanford's eyes. In the days that followed, Turner waited anxiously for a dream to be fulfilled.
"I was kind of nervous - kind of anxious about what was going to happen and what was going to come out," he admits. "I was kind of at wit's end, wondering was happening. I was just waiting for my phone to buzz. I kind of got on my parents' nerves, always checking the phone and stuff. But I was happy at the result."
The result was a scholarship offer, tendered by Jim Harbaugh over the phone Thursday. The excitement that ensued ran both directions, for the recruit and the Stanford head coach.
"Coach [Clayton] White text messaged me and told me to go ahead and call Coach Harbaugh, so I did. We got in touch, and he let me know that I had the full offer," Turner tells. "I didn't even really have words. I was glad that he was talking because if I had to talk, I wouldn't be able to say anything. It was overwhelming, I was so happy."
After the Long Beach athlete gathered himself, he found enough air in his windpipes to give his verbal commitment to Harbaugh.
"I accepted and committed right there," Turner recounts. "He seemed surprised, happy and excited. 'Oh wow, you're going to commit? I'm glad you're going to commit. That's exciting.' That was his reaction. He was pretty excited."
|Marcus Turner with defensive backs coach Clayton White|
His final camp came on the Cardinal campus, his second visit to Stanford in recent months. His first journey brought him to The Farm in April to check out a spring practice, at which time he also visited nearby San Francisco. His return last week saw him camp on Saturday, though he arrived a day early to peruse the campus.
"The first day I got there, I wasn't camping there. I just kind of poked my head around, and my parents and I walked around campus. I really liked it," the recruit recounts. "Then after the camp, I went on another tour. I liked it even more. I got to see the weight room, the locker room, the athletic building, the campus and the stadium."
"It was a nice experience," he says of his most recent visit. "It was a nice day with beautiful weather, and it was fun - a nice atmosphere that was relaxed where you could just have fun. I liked that."
All of this helped prime Turner for what became a quick trigger on his verbal commitment, once the Cardinal extended their scholarship offer.
"I have known that I would commit because I have taken visits, and they've been talking to me," he explains. "Stanford is a school where I have always wanted to go - since like the eighth grade. I've always looked up to the prestige of the school, the facilities, the campus, the nice atmosphere and the weather up there. You can't beat California weather. And then San Francisco is right there. I've been thinking about it for a long time, and I knew that if they were to offer me, I would commit there."
The question next on the minds of Cardinal fans is just what they landed with Turner's commitment.
"He is good in coverage and plays smart. He has a good burst out of the breaks," says Scout.com West recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman. "Turner has good instincts and anticipation. He needs to continue to improve his closing speed. The son of a former NFL defensive back and now high school football couch, he has a lot of intelligence and knowledge of the game.
"I guess it was my height and how I move well for a taller corner," Turner comments on his camp performance that produced a Stanford offer. "I can move well. I'm smooth in my movements and fluid. I guess that impressed them."
"I can bring a freshness to the team. A new type of attitude," he adds. "They have told me that they like how I'm a tall corner who won't get easily beat by the six-five receivers. I have length, and I'm going to get bigger. I'm good at press coverage. I can play off, also, but I'm good at playing man to man. I'm a shutdown corner. That's what I can bring to the team: I can take a player out of the game."
As a junior last fall, Turner recorded 33 tackles, one interception plus a handful of pass breakups. He also caught 11 receptions on offense at wide receiver.
Turner is equally impressive in the classroom. He currently carries a 3.94 weighted GPA at Cabrillo High School, recently concluding a junior year that included AP English, AP U.S. history and honors precalculus. Earlier this month he took the SAT and scored a 1540 on the 2400-point scale. His scores combined for a 1040 on the 1600 scale (510M + 530V).
In the most recent Scout.com rankings, Turner is slotted the #10 cornerback and the #148 overall recruit in the West region. The 6'0" cover corner has not had a lot written about him, and his star ratings are admittedly lackluster. That could understandbly get under his skin.
"I guess, a little. But I don't really feel like that," he says. "I can go into college and to Stanford University without pressure. You have these guys who are being shown all over the Internet and in the magazines, but they have pressure to perform. They have to perform to live up to the standards that they have been put up against. I get to go in there without all the cameras flashing, and I get to perform well without all the pressure. I have to perform well - I have to do this. But I can relax and go into college and have fun without all that pressure. I don't mind flying under the radar. It's fine by me."
Turner says one of the reasons he stands confident for his college future is the tandem of defensive backs coach Clayton White and defensive coordinator Scott Shafer. He enjoyed a taste of the Cardinal coaches last week for a single day of camp and cannot wait to work with them full time starting in August 2008.
"I'm excited to learn from them," Turner says. "They seem to know what they're doing. They know the game of football. They know defense. I'm excited to receive knowledge from them. I'm excited for the experience that Coach Shafer has had and the success he has had other places. He is now bringing that to Stanford, I'm excited to help contribute to that."
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