Senior Terrell Turner
Written by: Riley Danford
The 2011-12 University of Oregon football program is a collection of characters and personalities. However, it is the player's loyalty to their university and their pursuit of self-betterment that combines to uplift the whole rather than the individuals that comprise it in order to win games. If one were to choose a player who best embodies the standard and teachings of head coach Chip Kelly's "Win the Day" philosophy, it would be hard to not choose Terrell Turner.
The fun-loving and extroverted red-shirt senior has come a long way since the first time he set foot on campus. As even he will admit, playing at a D-I level doesn't come easy, "The crazy thing is the first time I knew I could play at this level was after I redshirted. I always had it in my mind that I could play but I knew physically and mentally after that year off. I am where I am now because of that one year off recovering learning and getting faster and stronger."
A standout, three-star linebacker at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, Calif., Turner had an uphill battle in his pursuit of a scholarship. "I didn't even know I was going to go to college. After my senior season, I was just getting questionnaires. My senior season was over and I was going to go play basketball." It wasn't until a little help from his high school coaches and a trip to Eugene that he knew he would be a Duck for life. "My high school coach made some calls letting everyone know 'you'll never find another guy who plays as hard', trying to sell me. It worked. I received my first offer from Nevada and after that they all rolled in. Finally, Oregon came and I was like, woah. I took my trips and Oregon was my last trip. I loved it up here."
A redshirted season left Turner with four years of eligibility, "I improved as player after I redshirted. I came in as a linebacker and I wasn't completely there as a player. I made the move to D-line, got stronger and made the adjustment." That adjustment proved invaluable for the Ducks as Turner's 2010 season produced 33 tackles, five and a half for a loss, with two and a half sacks, three pass deflections and an interception in 12 starts.
Recipient of the Clarke Award as the team's most improved player after his junior year, Turner's performance has certainly carried over to the 2011 campaign. He has already eclipsed last year's statistics in every category amassing 41 tackles (six for a loss), three and a half sacks and a forced fumble in just 11 games. In fact, after his seven tackles (one for a loss), one sack outing against Heisman hopeful Andrew Luck and No. 4 ranked Stanford, Turner was named the student athlete of the week by GoDucks.com.
While in-game statistics, off-the-field accolades and pure wins and losses can spell out a player's impact on the football field, it takes much less measurable attributes to measure a person's character off the field. Terrell's refreshing take on football, life and his end-all goals make him that much easier to root for.
"Earning my degree was my main goal and I did it. I was able to accomplish athletics, which was a big factor. I did it to make my mom and dad proud."
He remains a player committed to having fun without letting the pressures of playing at a national powerhouse football school get in the way of his experience as a Duck.
"If you're not having fun, you're not getting your job done. I always try to tell people that if you're not out there laughing and taking care of your business, then you're not having fun because you're doing a job."
A Family and Human Services major who graduated with a Bachelor of Education in the spring of 2011, Turner hopes to remain in the sport that has gotten him to this point in life. "If this football thing doesn't work out or whenever football is completely over for me I'll pursue being in the media field. Whether it's trying to work for ESPN or be with the Pac-12 network doing analysis or sideline reporting." In fact, Turner has plans to reach out to fellow Crenshaw High School grad and former NFL player Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, now an analyst for NBC Sports. Well on his way, Terrell hosts his own weekly segment broadcasted by KEZI titled "Rollin' Live with 45" where he interviews various teammates showing both his charisma as well as his potential in the television field.
An accredited and emotional five-year career comes to a head
on Saturday, November 26th as the Ducks host the Oregon State
Beavers on Senior Day marking the last Civil
War game of Turner's tenure.
"My parents are going to be here, so there will be a lot going through my head. I already know I'm going to cry. I know I'm a tough guy but I know that I'm going to cry because I'm going to miss my college life. There's going to be a lot of emotions."
Having never lost to the Beavers, Turner knows well the importance of the game to both the players and the fans. "I had a rivalry in high school, but it was nothing like this. Especially when you don't have a pro team in the state, this is a true college town. Everyone is either a Beaver or Duck. My biggest moment in the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry was last year when we got the chance to go to the National Championship. I'll always be able to tell my kids that I played and got an interception also."
Regardless of the outcome of the 2011-12 season for the Ducks, this is not the last we will hear from Terrell Turner. Having watched himself grow up from within the Oregon family, Turner leaves the university that has given him so much with confidence and optimism for the future.
"Our motto is 'Win the Day'. Everybody can take that and run with it with any situation because any day could be your last. Win the Day to me is winning this day today and making the most out of it as you can."
With so much in question as the Ducks pursue postseason hopes and dreams, one thing is for certain; Terrell Turner certainly has won during his time as an Oregon Duck.