Last-minute visit makes big impression on Turner

Brentwood (Tenn.) defensive end Barry Turner, <A HREF=>'s fifth-ranked prospect in the state</a>, has accumulated over 40 scholarship offers, including some from the nation's top football powers. But last weekend the Brentwood Academy star decided to use one of his five official visits on local school Vanderbilt. And as it turns out, he's very glad he did.

Barry Turner's list of post-season honors is almost as long as his list of offers. Let's just mention at the top he was recently named first-team All-State by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association, as well as the Tennessean's 2004 Midstate Player of the Year. His team, Brentwood Academy, finished as state runners-up in Division II.

With over 40 colleges begging him to come to their campus for an official visit, Turner knew narrowing down his choices was going to be difficult. He went to Nebraska last October to see a game, and knew he wanted to set up visits with Tennessee, Colorado and Virginia Tech. That left one visit open as of last week.

Last weekend was not really an official visit weekend for Vanderbilt; students had not yet returned from winter break, players were gone, and there was no men's basketball game on campus Saturday. But after the Commodore coaching staff pulled out all the stops to convince Turner to give the local school a visit, the Brentwood Academy star decided to use his only available weekend (Jan. 7) to check out the Nashville campus.

Now he's very glad he did.

"I loved it," he said. "The coaches were just great. They gave me a tour of the campus, and I met some of the academic representatives. It was all just awesome."

Turner's first official visit had been to Nebraska last October on a big-game weekend, with all the attendant noise and festivities. There's really no way to compare the two visits, Turner said.

"Both of them were really great. I didn't get to know the players or go to a game at Vanderbilt like I did at Nebraska. But the people I did meet were just awesome." Vanderbilt's coaches have been using a tag-team approach to lure him, Turner said. "Coach Johnson, Coach Turner, Coach Cain, they've all been recruiting me."

Turner has the speed of a linebacker, but said the Commodores want him at defensive end, the position he played for the Eagles (as well as tight end). The 6-3, 240-pounder would fill a huge need for Vanderbilt, which recently lost junior captain Jovan Haye to the NFL Draft.

In Turner's case, Vanderbilt's proximity is one factor that weighs heavily in its favor. The Eagles' star said going a long way away to school would not be a big deal for him, but it might end up being that way for his mother.

"It's not a factor for me, but my Mom does love to see me play in every game she can," Turner said. "So it is a really big factor to her."

But it's way too soon to be talking favorites, he says; he's still planning to take all five visits. Next up is a scheduled weekend visit to Knoxville. The month of January will be unbelievably busy for BA's big man, who's also a four-year starter for the Eagles' basketball team. Defensive linemen with the abilities of Turner are coveted by schools of all sizes, and Turner seems to know he holds all the cards in this game. Don't expect a final decision until after Jan. 28, when he takes his final visit to Virginia Tech.

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