Reviewing the Redshirts is an off-season series meant to resurrect discussion around the current Irish freshmen who did not play in 2012.
There were nine this year who retained a year of eligibility and today we take a look at a defensive back looking to make an impact in 2013.
John Turner, Safety
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Weight: 207 pounds
247: 3-star, No. 31 safety, No. 5 IN, 87 Grade
ESPN: 3-star, No. 63 safety, No. 17 IN, 76 Grade
Scout: 3-star, No. 48 safety
Rivals: 3-star, Not Rated, No. 15 IN
Composite: 3-star, No. 40 safety, No. 9 IN
Need at Position: Low
Expected Spot on Depth Chart: 4th string
Turner came from Cathedral High School where he led the Fighting Irish to back-to-back state titles in 2010 and 2011. A member of the All-City team in Indianapolis, he was one of the top players to come out of the state of Indiana for the 2012 class.
Turner committed in June of 2011 and was a bit of a head scratcher at the time as he wasn't carrying many notable offers and he was an unranked prospect by most services. However, he impressed the Irish coaches after working out and committed not soon after receiving his offer from Brian Kelly.
Using the 247 composite scores, John is the lowest ranked recruit of the last two classes. In fact, he's the only recruit to have an average ranking below 80 from our OFD grading system---which shows how we all get caught up in new recruits since we've only rated one recruit as a 'backup' out of the last 40 prospects who have signed with Notre Dame.
Here's my succinct profile on Turner last February:
Really good size and decent speed. A bit of a stiff athlete that lack explosiveness. Will be in a dog fight for playing time at safety. Closest thing to a reach in this 2012 class.
Let's just focus on that dog fight at safety for a second. While one safety spot has opened up with the loss of Zeke Motta, the return of Austin Collinsworth from injury may fill that void. If it's not Collinsworth, perhaps upcoming Sophomore Elijah Shumate will transition back to safety or even the athletic Nicky Baratti is the new starter. If that's not a big enough log-jam let's not forget the most talented safety recruit in a long time is stepping on campus this summer and there are still other options at safety like Prosise and Hardy.
That's just a ton of bodies to navigate through. If Turner were able to pass several players with experience and a couple more highly regarded youngsters as a redshirt freshman it would be a pretty phenomenal story.
I could sugar coat things but Turner is going to have a hard time seeing the field in 2013, as I'm sure many of you would agree. However, there's no reason that he shouldn't be one of the mainstays on special teams this upcoming fall with his combination of size and speed. Kelly was really in a bind last year with injuries that forced him to use a few walk-ons for special teams while a handful of players like Turner took a redshirt. Now, Turner and others are available for 2013.
Turner's size is enticing and you can see once he proved his speed to the Irish staff why they were willing to take a chance on him. Hopefully he's not as stiff of an athlete and a full year in the Notre Dame S&C program has made him a little tougher.
He supposedly ran a great 40-time for the Irish coaches but I don't see great speed from Turner. He does come out of his backpedal and accelerate toward the ball carrier well though. But for someone his size he's wasn't that physical in high school and he doesn't look like the type of safety that will be able to chase down speedy receivers.
So this kind of leaves Turner in no-man's land both with his skill-set and the amount of players vying for a position at safety. I'm not sure he'll ever be a starting safety but if he is someday it will be because his strengths are increased power, tackling, and playing smart.