Justin Turner, ex-Wolverine

Justin Turner, ex-Wolverine

August 12, 2010

Redshirt freshman cornerback Justin Turner has apparently decided to transfer. He has been granted his release by the University of Michigan, although Sam Webb of Scout/WTKA/Detroit News fame has stated that his parents are going to try to talk Turner out of leaving Ann Arbor. We’ll see how that goes.

If #2 does indeed follow through with his intentions to leave Michigan, he would be the first member of the 21-person Class of 2009 to leave. (Cornerback Adrian Witty never arrived at Michigan after Michigan’s Admissions office failed to grant him entry.) To Rivals he was a 4-star safety, the #35 recruit in the country, and the #3 player at his position; to Scout he was a 5-star cornerback, the #3 player in the country, and the #1 player at his position. To the University of Michigan’s football team, he was the #3 or perhaps #4 cornerback for the 2010 season.

The 2009 version of the Wolverines had horrible defenses and very little cornerback depth, especially after then-sophomore Boubacar Cissoko was booted off the team for skipping classes and generally being an idiot. But Turner still couldn’t get on the field and redshirted, giving way to fellow freshman Teric Jones, who entered college hoping and expecting to play running back or slot receiver. With Donovan Warren leaving school early to enter the 2010 NFL Draft, many Michigan fans assumed that Turner would assume the starting cornerback role. However, redshirt sophomore JT Floyd took the lead in the battle for the open cornerback position.

There were reports that Turner had ballooned to an unfathomable 197 pounds and got too big to play cornerback, a regular Violet Beauregarde. (Set your sarcasm detectors to ON.) The fall roster even listed him at 198 pounds. However, cornerbacks coach Tony Gibson has spoken highly of Turner in the past, and his disenchantment likely has more to do with playing second fiddle to JT Floyd than anything else. He was 186 lbs. coming out of high school, so adding 11 or 12 pounds in college really isn’t that big of a deal. He still could have played corner, although he would have been fighting incoming freshman Cullen Christian – a highly touted corner in his own right, and ranked higher than Turner in my 2010 Season Countdown – for playing time.

Turner was ranked as a safety by Rivals, and I think most Michigan fans were waiting for a time when cornerback depth would allow him to switch positions to free safety or Bandit. If his absence is felt at all, though, it will likely be a year or two down the road if Michigan’s 17 safeties can’t cobble together a decent starter or three. I’m not going to sit here and say that Michigan is better off without him. But the Wolverines are headed for 7 or 8 wins in 2010 whether Turner’s in Ann Arbor or not.


  1. Comments: 21383
    Aug 12, 2010 at 2:25 AM

    I think I'm more sad because he seemed to be our one real recruiting win vs. OSU in recent years. Can't say I was expecting a ton out of him this year though… oh well. Come on mom and dad! Give him what for!

  2. Comments: 21383
    Aug 12, 2010 at 2:35 AM

    One quibble: Its pretty misleading to say Turner gave way to Teric Jones and "couldn't get on the field". By this logic, Bryant Nowicki outplayed Taylor Lewan and Patrick Omameh…Sometimes, its just not worth burning a redshirt.

    Without inside knowledge, we don't know where Turner was at, but we know the coaches were discouraged to play him because of the redshirt status. If Warren or Woolfolk had gone down with a major injury, it wouldn't have been unreasonable to expect to see Turner play.

    Teric Jones played zero meaningful snaps – same as Turner…

    In 2010 Turner was projected to be a backup. So barring an injury, its not a major loss. Its 2011 where this hurts. Yeah, there will be more freshman and sophomores on campus, but the hope was that Turner, in his 3rd year on campus, would have grown into a starter opposite JT Floyd or one of the underclassmen who proved competent. Now, 2011 will be yet another season where young CBs are going to be initiated under fire. Once again, we're back to praying for a miracle at a key position that we were hoping was going to be solidified.

    This may sound like an overreaction, but those of us who were hoping 2011 was the first year where Michigan could expect to contend for a B10 title may have to push that back to 2012.

    Here's to hoping Turner gets wise, gets tough, changes his mind, and gets his act together before he blows a major opportunity. You'd think that with the Cissoko example, he'd know how bad things can get and how fast.

  3. Comments: 21383
    Aug 12, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    Turner got too big as in he got too tall. Coaches consistently grilled Turner for staying too high on backpedal which is difficult for a tall CB like Turner. Apparently he grew an inch or two since enrolling at Michigan.

  4. Comments: 21383
    Aug 12, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    @ Lankownia

    I think it's a little disingenuous to think anything other than "Justin Turner wasn't significantly better than Teric Jones." The Rodriguez regime hasn't been shy about burning redshirts (Stokes, Vincent Smith, Mike Jones, Vlad Emilien, Campbell etc.) for limited playing time at important positions. All those guys could have redshirted without any noticeable loss on the field, but they didn't.

  5. Comments: 21383
    Aug 12, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    @ Anonymous 1:35 a.m.

    Turner has been listed as 6'2" as a recruit, as a freshman, and now as a redshirt freshman. Unless they've been lying about his height, growing taller doesn't seem like a legitimate excuse.

  6. Comments: 21383
    Aug 12, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    I recall Campbell and Smith both playing meaningful snaps last year. But your point is legit for Emilien, M.Jones and the others, as far as i know.

    I think some players are seen as having limited ceilings and are (relatively) ready to play. Turner's upside and reported lack of being ready (particularly in the early season) made him a more attractive option to redshirt.

  7. Comments: 21383
    Aug 12, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    @ Lankownia

    I know Campbell and Smith played "meaningful snaps" but my point is that there were other players who could have played those snaps without seeing a significant drop-off. For example, if Smith's snaps against Wisconsin and OSU were given to Shaw/Cox, would it really have made much of a difference? If Campbell were replaced by Banks/Sagesse against OSU or Iowa, would that have made much of a difference? I could make a pretty good argument that those chances for redshirts were wasted.

  8. Comments: 21383
    Aug 12, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    I'm not arguing that redshirt were wasted. This is undoubtedly true. I also agree the coaches aren't shy about burning redshirt years. I think the coaches are more interested in ramping up player development than managing the roster for maximum top-end performance. This is just a reality of having a young team with no depth and trying to build the program back up.

    That said, there are clearly exceptions to this approach. OL is the most obvious, where despite the horrendous performance in '08 we saw a lot of talented players redshirt, even while walk-ons saw playing time. In '09 those same players saw time while the walk-ons got pushed. Did those freshman really improve that much in one year? — perhaps. But more likely, the coaches thought it wise to keep the redshirt, in those cases. Immediate ability isn't the only criteria the coaches consider.

    Similarly, I suspect there was more to it than ability with Turner. The first reason is that Teric Jones was a wreck. He didn't look like he belonged on the field, even against MAC-level competition. Honestly, I've never seen a more embarrassing performance out of a scholarship player at Michigan. I think the coaches have no clue what to do with him and figure they're not going to keep him around for a 5th year regardless.

    As for Turner, obviously there was the recruiting hype (which is often wrong), but we also saw him in the HS all-star game and he looked pretty great. Even if he's having issues with fitness, discipline, etc. I just can't believe he isn't at least as capable as Jones, at least for simple man coverage.

    This is not to say "Justin Turner was significantly better than Teric Jones." applies to either this year or last. My point is we can't make the inverse statement "Jones is significantly better than Turner" either. Not based on one guy getting a redshirt and the other not.

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