Instant analysis. Josh Turner wasn't even on the radar at the time of the first Texas Junior Day, but vaulted to the top of the Texas board at cornerback with his visit for the spring game and became a major target because of his ability to contribute early -- Turner will enroll at Texas shortly after the departures of Curtis and Chykie Brown and possibly Aaron Williams, who could forgo his senior season.
Whatever imperfections his stint as defensive coordinator exposed, Duane Akina's reputation for developing athletes into NFL-caliber defensive backs represents an incredibly appeal for high school athletes who want to play at the next level. Names like Aaron Ross, Michael Huff, Cedric Griffin, Michael Griffin, and Earl Thomas resonate with young players and have helped provide the Longhorns with a reputation as DB U.
It may largely have been that appeal and a desire to get out of the state of Oklahoma that led Turner to become interested in the Longhorns. As a relatively late appearance on the radar and one of the top prospects at his position nationally, it seemed almost impossible that Texas would stand a strong chance of stealing a top prospect out of Oklahoma for the second straight year, an area in which the coaching staff does not expend significant resources recruiting.
As they often do in such circumstances, things began to fall into place for Texas in Turner's recruitment. Though he was not able to attend the second Junior Day due to basketball commitments, the Longhorns took the rare step of offering him without having met him in person and the fluid cornerback did make it down for the spring game, coming away extremely impressed and moving the Longhorns to the top of his list as co-leaders with Miami, his childhood favorite. However, the distance to Coral Gables and a remarkable lack of interest on the part of the Hurricanes eventually removed Miami was consideration, leaving Oklahoma and Nebraska vying with Texas for Turner's services.
Visits to Oklahoma and Nebraska kept Turner from attending the second Texas camp two weeks ago, but if the results are any indication, those trips served only to confirm to Turner what he had known deep in his heart for some time -- that he wanted to become a Texas Longhorn. Choosing not to wait until visiting Austin again, Turner called Mack Brown on Saturday to inform the head coach of his decision.
Originally slated to make a decision some time in June, Turner had pushed back his timetable to take more visits, but after sitting down with his family, decided to put an end to the process ($):
I felt like it was time. I figured, why wait until the end of summer, when I've kind of known where I was going to go? I felt like it was the best fit for me.
The normal combination of the coaching staff, the facilities, and the general atmosphere in Austin all contributed to his commitment, but it may have been a player who helped Texas the most -- fellow Oklahoman Demarco Cobbs. When Turner visited for the spring game, it was Cobbs who spent time with Turner, most likely helping him to understand the consequences of being a Longhorn in Sooner country and dealing with the pressures of leaving the state.
All told, the visit made a strong impression on the young man:
When we first pulled up to the stadium I was like, ‘Wow is this real?’ You only see it on TV. It was great. Coach (Duane) Akina gave us a tour around the building and at night we were accompanied by Demarco Cobbs.
He [Cobbs] seemed like he loved it down there. We talked to some of the other players – A.J. White showed us the dorms. We went over some schemes and stuff like that.
Overall, it was a great experience.
According to Millwood offensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator Kevin Cox, Turner is a Mack Brown type of kid:
He's a kid that is never going to do the wrong thing. He knows especially now with the kind of podium he's on, he knows people are looking at him from every direction. He'll just keep doing what he's been doing, doing the things that got him to where he is.
When all the offers started coming in, he never lost his composure. He's kept a level head and he's worked his tail off.
Turner was a leader for the Millwood track and basketball teams that won state titles this past season, and he's a player the Millwood coaching staff uses as an example for its other student-athletes.
Texas is getting a kid that is 17 years old, but handles himself like he's 24 or 25. He's all about family, he does things the right way. He's a great example for his brothers, and a great example for his teammates. When we have a kid not doing things right, we tell them to go hang out with Josh and do what he's doing.
If his coach is correct, Turner should not have any struggles adjusting to the environment at Texas and the increase in competition level, both important factors considering that securing commitments from cornerbacks who could contribute early was a major need in the class. Prospective defensive backs like Mykkele Thompson and Quandre Diggs are not yet locked into a position and Sheroid Evans could play safety or cornerback, leaving Leroy Scott as the only other pure cornerback in the class. Turner provides the Longhorns with another pure cornerback who could come in and contribute early, no doubt part of Texas' appeal to the Oklahoma City prep sensation.
Instant scouting report. A two-way star on the gridiron for Millwood, Turner also lead his high school to state championships in track and basketball this spring -- the kid is a flat-out all-around athlete and winner. Ranked as the second-best cornerback prospect in the nation by Rivals, Turner lacks ideal experience at the position and hasn't received a ton of coaching there, but possesses all the attributes to become a lockdown corner at Texas and earn himself a shot at playing in the NFL.
Turner's Onto the Radar post described the attributes that made him such a sought-after recruit:
Like the great majority of future collegiate cornerbacks, Turner plays both ways for Oklahoma City Millwood, starring as a receiver and cornerback. His speed is apparent in all three phases of the game, but what stands out about Turner with the ball in his hands is that he has exceptional balance and willingness to take hits and pick up tough yardage. His balance is reminiscent of current Texas cornerback Curtis Brown, who has renowned in high school for being able to keep his feet in extreme circumstances, while his toughness recalls another current Longhorn, DJ Monroe.
Turner's frame is much closer to Brown than it is to Monroe, as both Turner and Brown are about six feet tall and possess lanky builds, though Turner may have even smaller wrists, elbows, and knees -- his Rivals page lists him at 185 pounds, but there's no way that Turner goes any more than 160 at the most and probably won't be able to add a great deal of weight to that frame in college.
However, his aforementioned toughness with the ball extends to the defensive side of the ball, where Turner shows enough to allay any concerns about his tackling ability. Turner doesn't have the frame of a kid like Avery Walls, but he shows an ability to use good tackling form to impart force on ballcarriers, using his momentum and knee bend to wrap up opponents and drive them to the ground -- a young Curtis Brown he is not. Basically, Turner probably won't have to add much mass to tackle well in college because he understands how to use the mass he already possesses.
The physicailty is a nice benefit for a cornerback, but it's speed, explosiveness and fluid hips that make a top-notch player at the position and Turner appears to have those qualities on film. On offense, his explosiveness makes him a big-play threat whenever he has the ball in his hands and on defense it does and will allow him to run with eite receivers on deep routes. Turner's film doesn't show him flipping his hips a great deal, but he does look fluid when he has to and shows elite-level recovery and initial acceleration -- he clearly gets to top speed in less than three steps, allowing him to break on routes and helps make up for any mistakes he might make. Once he gets himself into the vicinity using his speed, his ball skills carry over from the offensive side to the defensive side, allowing him to finish plays with interceptions.
It's his ball skills and capability to break big plays after interceptions or in the kicking game that helps make Turner a top prospect. While fellow commit Leroy Scott has all the tools to become a lockdown cornerback, Turner rates more highly by most services because of his ball skills and ability to finish plays with interceptions, increasingly a point of emphasis in recruiting for the Longhorns and an area in which Turner excels, while Scott sometimes fights the football.
In watching his film again, Turner does struggle at times with his tackling form, often attacking the ball carrier with his knees locked, keeping him from imparting any force on his opponent. However, he does show enough flashes of physicality both as a receiver and as a defensive back that he shouldn't have the same problems Deon Beasley faced of seemingly not wanting to be a presence in the secondary as a tackler.
And while his technique at cornerback may leave something to be desired, Turner is known for learning quickly at camps and will receive tutoring from one of the best in the business in Duane Akina. His pure talent should help him contribute early and since he is already locked into a position at cornerback, he could see significant playing time as a freshman and could pass a player like Eryon Barnett on the depth chart if the tall cornerback doesn't have a strong redshirt freshman season.