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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Turner ready to step into defense role for Wildcats

    Mike Turner attempts to tackle DeSean Jackson in Arizonas 45-27 Pacific 10 Conference opening loss to California on Sept. 22 in Berkeley, Calif. After being switched from cornerback to receiver last year, Turner hopes to compete for a starting cornerback job next year since being shifted back to defense.
    Mike Turner attempts to tackle DeSean Jackson in Arizona’s 45-27 Pacific 10 Conference opening loss to California on Sept. 22 in Berkeley, Calif. After being switched from cornerback to receiver last year, Turner hopes to compete for a starting cornerback job next year since being shifted back to defense.

    When Mike Turner arrived in Tucson two years ago as a highly touted cornerback recruit, great things were expected.

    The four-star recruit’s competition, however, was heavy as both Antoine Cason and Wilrey Fontenot held a firm grip on both cornerback slots, forcing Turner to redshirt.

    Though he was a three-year starter at Manteca High School in California, where he had a stellar senior year with seven interceptions and 49 tackles, it was far from enough to give the Arizona coaching staff enough reason to consider him as a
    main contributor.

    “”There is always going to be competition at this level and Mike came in with a lot of high accolades,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. “”It just gets down to your work ethic and what you put in is what you will get out. I think Mike is starting to mature as a person and understand you can’t just walk out on the field no matter how skilled you are.””

    But the bottom line is Turner had the skills, and in an effort to utilize his talents in the new spread offense Arizona implemented for last season, the coaching staff moved him to a slot receiver as a redshirt freshman to add some depth to the
    receiving core.

    There, he ran into a slew of competition once again, as Mike Thomas, Delashuan Dean and Anthony Johnson all had the bulk of the responsibilities, and he played sparingly.

    But the opportunity to get playing time was too good to resist and he took the job that only amounted to three catches for
    10 yards.

    With both Cason and Fontenot departing after last season, Turner was moved yet again back to his native position, cornerback.

    “”I am found – at first I was lost – but now I am found back at corner, my home,”” said Turner, who will be a redshirt sophomore next season. “”I am finally back at the main position that I wanted to play, and that feels good.””

    Looking back on his experiences last season, despite a lack of playing time, it may not have been all a waste.

    As he matured last year, learning the ins and outs of the receiver position, he discovered a great deal about the nature of the position. He studied trends, routes, tendencies and the correct way to play.

    The 5-foot-11, 188-pound corner will now be covering the position he spent all last season learning, which is something he has recognized as a great advantage.

    And though he missed out playing under Cason for a year, his experience on the offensive side of the ball may prove to be just as valuable.

    “”I kind of have the best of both worlds now,”” Turner said. “”I will have a better idea of what kind of routes they are going to run because I went through it. I know how receivers move as a whole now, and I can anticipate what they are going to do.””

    Turner, who has become accustomed to sitting behind stars thus far in his tenure at Arizona, is actually in the hunt for a starting job now, or at least a position where he will be a steady contributor.

    He is competing with Marquis Hundley for Cason’s cornerback spot, a position on which Arizona has relied heavily in the past, as the departed senior may be considered one of the best cornerbacks who ever played at Arizona.

    Nevertheless, being in spring camp with a shot at a starting position has done wonders for Turner, who now has the enthusiasm and dedication to be a valuable entity in Arizona’s defensive backfield.

    But it’s going to take some work.

    “”Mike Turner is doing good, but he still has a little ways to go,”” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”I want him to compete for a starting position. He is a little behind right now but he just needs to develop himself into a Pac-10 corner.””

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