The Wolverine

2022 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 103 of 163

102 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW "My mom wanted me to go to a big aca- demic school. I wanted to go to a big football school," he said. "This was the best of both worlds." It helped, too, that the families clicked. Head coach Jim Harbaugh did a great job winning his mom over, and he and Turner's dad became — and remain — friends who still talk daily, Turner noted. You might say Turner was living his dream. But even the best situations have their draw- backs. For Turner, it was two-fold. Not only did he arrive to find two future NFL cornerbacks entrenched in the starting lineup in Lavert Hill and Ambry Thomas — he also couldn't figure out why he was always in pain just below his waist after practices, games and workouts. Adversity And Perseverance Turner was a multi-sport athlete, starting as a baseball player as a 4-year-old and tak- ing up football at age 6. Basketball would follow, then track, and he excelled in all of them, no matter the competition. But in high school, the nagging pain started, and it became more intense the more football he played. The worst part — nobody could diagnose the problem. "I was going to play baseball and run track but literally had that pain through high school," he said. "Every time I finished the football season, I was in so much pain I couldn't just roll right into another sport. I didn't know what the problem was." Turner still toughed it out and played basketball and then fought through another football season. Had he been 100 percent, he might have even been a five-star prospect. But the agony persisted … and then the competition got fierce when he arrived at Michigan. Hill and Thomas each took him CONFIDENT CORNER Senior DJ Turner Could Be One Of The Big Ten's Best Defensive Backs — And Then Some BY CHRIS BALAS T op football recruits have their goals when they arrive on their college campus of choice, and they're usually pretty lofty. Some might even call them "delusions of grandeur," given how many just like them have already arrived, put in their time and rank ahead of them on the depth chart. That, of course, can lead to frustration, maybe even a confidence blow. As the late, great Tom Petty once put it, "the waiting is the hardest part" — and while the rocker probably wasn't talking about cornerbacks, that about sums it up for Michigan senior DJ Turner. A highly recruited prospect out of elite Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Acad- emy, Turner wasn't used to taking a backseat to anybody. He won a state championship at Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett High, where he was a lockdown corner in the largest division of a talent-laden state. IMG wasn't the only school that wanted him for his senior year, and while he was "only" a three-star prospect ranked as the No. 47 corner in the country by Rivals — he was clearly underrated with Notre Dame, Florida, even powerhouse Alabama offering scholarships in addition to Michigan. Of those on his short list, U-M had one thing many of the others didn't.

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