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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Turning a corner

Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona cornerback Mike Turner’s path through his college career has been far from what any four-star recruit would consider ideal.

Turner was forced to watch from the sidelines after being redshirted for the season while his fellow four-star freshman cornerback and roommate, Devin Ross, saw action in 11 games in his first year.

The Wildcats then chose to move Turner to the offensive side of the ball — having him play receiver in 2007 where he saw only limited action, three catches for 10 yards and one run for six.

But Turner’s biggest blow came in 2008 when Arizona coaches suspended him for the season due to undisclosed reasons.

After coming off his suspension at the beginning of the 2009 season, the Manteca, Calif., native failed to beat out Ross and sophomore Trevin Wade for the starting cornerback position — a short-coming defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said was primarily based on Turner’s consistency.

“”Mike (Turner) has a tendency to be a bit inconsistent,”” Stoops said. “”He has talent but it’s mental.””

“”We got two pretty good corners in front of him and sometimes some players come to accept (being backups) and lose focus a little bit,”” Stoops continued.

Where Turner has not lost focus this season is on special teams. The junior has seen his most significant playing time on the special teams’ side of the ball and was moved to the “”gunner”” position on punt returns after Wildcats’ coaches took notice of Turner’s athleticism and strong tackling ability.

Arguably, Turner’s finest moment in an Arizona uniform came last Saturday in Tempe where he snatched up a loose ball off Arizona State punt return man Kyle Williams’ muff late in the fourth quarter.

The play earned Turner a game ball as it set up Arizona’s game-winning field goal as time expired.

For the Arizona coaches, the ball may have signified not only their recognition of his football abilities, but a symbol that the trust that was shaken with his 2008 suspension may be close to rebuilt.

“”(Turner’s) been working real hard to do things right and this year he really has,”” said special teams’ coach Jeff Hammerschmidt. “”On the field, he’s real athletic and very explosive. He does a good job of getting close (to the returner) on punt returns and I’m sure he does things that disturb the (return) guys.””

“”You can see his abilities as a corner when he’s working as a gunner and he does a great job.””

While Turner’s eye-catching play Saturday may not improve the junior’s playing time defensively this season — especially with Ross and Wade still playing well and being healthy — even Stoops said he took note of his effort Saturday and has his eye on the player that was once a highly-touted recruit.

Turner admits to not always being fully content with his playing time — especially on defense — but says he is working to improve every day so that the starting position that many felt would be his much sooner, will finally be reserved for him.

“”Of course I’m unsatisfied with where I’m at,”” Turner said. “”I think everyone should always be pushing to improve and achieve higher things. But my role right now is a special teams player, and when my opportunity comes, I’m going to be ready to take advantage of that.””

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