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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The new burner: ReTurner

    Redshirt freshman Michael Turner jogs at practice on March 21 at Jimenez Practice Facility. Turner, a cornerback and kick returner whos earned the nickname Burner for his speed, wont be jogging much if he hopes to earn playing time next season.
    Redshirt freshman Michael Turner jogs at practice on March 21 at Jimenez Practice Facility. Turner, a cornerback and kick returner who’s earned the nickname ‘Burner’ for his speed, won’t be jogging much if he hopes to earn playing time next season.

    Meet Michael Turner. His teammates refer to him as “”Burner Turner,”” but his coaches know him as an incredibly enthusiastic, versatile football player.

    Sitting behind Antoine Cason on the depth chart at strong cornerback, the redshirt freshman knows he may not get a great deal of playing time on defense, but he has emerged in spring practice to become the team’s punt returner.

    Not to be confused with the San Diego Chargers’ backup running back and punt returner Michael “”Burner”” Turner, Arizona’s own burner is receiving high praise from coaches who expect him to fill a big role in the fall season.

    “”He needs to play a huge part,”” said special teams coach Joe Robinson. “”Not only as a returner, but for some of our coverage units. He’s a ballplayer for us.

    “”He’s obviously a very talented secondary player for this team, and his contribution should be huge. He should be on every single one of our special teams.””

    While coaches have not directly chosen a specific player to be the main returner, Robinson said Turner will absolutely be involved in the conversations.

    After the departure of Syndric Steptoe, Arizona’s return specialist last season, it may be Turner’s job to lose.

    “”I expect to get some playing time,”” Turner said. “”My expectations right now are trying to become a good starting punt returner since Steptoe left and Mike Thomas will be a receiver.””

    Turner has been getting a lot of reps at both the corner and returner position in spring practice, and has stayed after practice just catching punts, fervor that has impressed Robinson.

    “”The single most impressive thing he has shown is his enthusiasm to work,”” Robinson said. “”We stay out here 20 minutes after practice working with our punter, and the only guy catching balls down there every day is Michael Turner.

    “”He sees an opportunity to go in there and catch a few punts and instead of going in there with everybody else, he stays out there and works. It’s really been unbelievable how enthusiastic he’s been about it.””

    Turner thinks he is a multipurpose athlete and can picture himself playing safety in addition to his other positions. In practice this spring, he has played both strong and wide corner.

    “”He’s been improving each day and getting better,”” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”If he works out hard and has a good summer and fall camp, he could contribute quite a bit.””

    Turner might receive more time behind senior Wilrey Fontenot and junior college transfer Marquis Hundley at wide corner, because Cason rarely missed snaps in his first three seasons.

    “”He’s a young guy, an up-and-coming corner,”” Cason said. “”He’s working hard.””

    Said Stoops: “”Just like we thought when we recruited him out of high school, we think (Turner) is just a good football player. He’s pretty versatile and has good ball skills. … He can play either (position).””

    Of his nickname, Turner said ever since he started playing football, teammates, coaches and family have called him “”Burner”” because of his speed.

    “”Since I was little, people have called me ‘Burner Turner,'”” he said. “”It was kind of a coincidence when I came out here for my first visit two years ago; (wide receiver) B.J. Dennard was already calling me that.””

    The Wildcats are just hoping he can live up to his name.

    “”He can run, man,”” Robinson said. “”Speed kills, doesn’t it?””

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