Vaught's Views: Coaches watching Danville's Turner

May 23, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

During the time he's won seven state championships and 193 games at Danville, coach Sam Harp has had many talented players. However, he's never had one receiving as much attention from Division I coaches as early as what running back Kelvin Turner is.

Recently University of Kentucky offensive coordinator Ron Hudson and Louisville running backs-tight end coach Greg Nord have been by to inquire about Turner. So have assistant coaches from Tennessee and Indiana.

Harp says Wake Forest sends Turner mail almost every day. Memphis, Boston College, Notre Dame, Miami (Fla.), Florida, Colorado, Vanderbilt, Arizona and Alabama are some of the other teams that have already contacted Turner, too.

"He's received more Division I attention at this stage than any player I've ever had at Danville," Harp said. "Most of them are talking to him about playing running back, but some are also talking about how he could help in the kicking game with his return skills."


His numbers certainly indicate that he could help a lot of teams. He's played on two state championship teams at Danville and going into his senior season he's already rushed for 4,513 yards and 61 touchdowns. He's done that on only 486 carries, whch means he's averaging close to 10 yards per carry.

Turner also has over 900 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches. He's also proven to be a potent kick returner.

About the only thing Turner doesn't have his extraordinary speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at the Mid-State Football Coaches Association Combine recently at Centre College. That's good speed, but not outstanding for a big-time college running back.

His ability goes beyond his time in the 40

Yet the 40 time does not competely gauge Turner's ability.

"I think 40 times are one of the most overrated things in football," Harp said. "It's a measuring stick that colleges use, but a 40 time certainly does not tell the whole story, especially about a player like Kelvin.

"Having good feet, good eyes, field presence and the ability to run after contact are all more important to me than a 40 time and he has all of those qualities. To me, the most important thing is the first 10 yards. A lot of guys with great speed are not good football players."

And Turner?

"He's not what I would call a blazer, but he's got good wheels," Harp said. "His speed is above average. What really separates him, though, is his ability to change directions at full speed and the yards he gains after contact because he's so strong in his legs. He just has a lot of intangibles that you cannot measure at any combine and coaches should recognize that."

Boyle County coach Chuck Smith, who has won five straight state titles and sent numerous players to Division I schools, certainly does.

"What you can't measure in a 40 time is how hard it is to knock Turner down," Smith said. "He doesn't go down with one hit. That's what makes him a great running back. He has incredible balance and instincts."

Turner bench pressed 185 pounds 16 times at the combine. Harp said his leg strength is what also makes him hard to tackle.

After running for 2,134 yards and 27 touchdowns last year while sharing the feature back role with Charles Penix, Turner's numbers could go up this year because he may get the ball even more with Penix gone to Eastern Kentucky.

The most important number is his grade point average

However, the number most college coaches will be watching is his grade-point average. "After coaches ask if he can play, the next question is always about academics. It's that way with every player now," Harp said.

Because Turner does not have the necessary grade-point average on his NCAA-mandated core courses yet to meet freshman eligibility, he has not received any scholarship offers. Harp expects that to change.

"There's no doubt if he was a certain qualifier at this stage, he would have offers," Harp said. "But he can make it. I believe without a doubt he'll have the (college entrance) test score because he's already close. The question will be with his core GPA."

Harp says Turner is not a bad student, but that being a "B-C student" is not good enough for the NCAA and that's where Danville's grading scale hurts him and others. While at some schools, 90 percent is an A, 80 percent a B and 70 percent a C, at Danville the scale is higher. It takes a 94 percent average to get an A and 86 percent to get a B.

"You can have an 85 percent average here and that's a C, not a B like it is at a lot of schools. That really hurts our athletes." Harp said. "But he knew all this and now it is all in his hands. He can still make it, and is working hard to do that."

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