Gerald Turner could play the game of football. The only real issue was where he was supposed to be while playing it.
North Carolina toyed with the notion of bulking up the Goose Creek linebacker to play him at defensive tackle. Clemson thought leaving him be at linebacker was best.
“It’s basically the way they’re going to play me,” Turner said Monday at Spartanburg High following a Shrine Bowl practice. “Other people were really unsure because of my size. They didn’t know if I was going to get taller or bigger. That basically was the big factor.”
Turner was skeptical. So while schools doodled on scratch paper trying to find the right position for him, Turner attended to the business at hand, decimating opponents to the tune of 49 tackles, eight sacks, eight passes defended and a forced fumble he returned 20 yards for a touchdown.
Then along came USC and its “spur.”
What it comes down to is something very basic for Turner.
“I’d rather give the hit than take the hit,” he said.
And as for the Spur, it is a position for which Turner is ideally suited. At 6-foot, 240 pounds, he sports a frame remarkably similar to that of current USC spur, DeVonte Holloman (6-2, 241).
Turner moved to South Carolina 10 years ago and was more of an NFL fan than college football follower. Only when he started high school did he begin following the college game.
“Everybody says the SEC has better players than the ACC. I don’t think that’s true. If you’re going to play ball, you’re going to play ball. You’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Eventually, North Carolina and Clemson would come along, checking in occasionally to see how he was developing physically. But USC was there — as much as it could be — from his first day on campus.
Turner said encouraging correspondence from the USC coaching staff, including coach Steve Spurrier, weighed heavily in the Gamecocks’ favor.
“Ever since my freshman year, I’ve been following them, seeing what’s going on,” Turner said.
Ultimately, USC and the SEC were too good to walk away from.
“The SEC,” Turner said. “It’s a big deal.”