Nolan Turner is all over the place and having fun


by - Senior Writer -
Turner makes a play at Syracuse a few weeks ago.
Turner makes a play at Syracuse a few weeks ago.

CLEMSON – Everywhere you look this season, safety Nolan Turner is making a play for the Clemson defense. However, if you’ve watched the Tigers over the last two seasons you know that making plays is what Turner does best.

The native of Vestavia Hills, Alabama, is sixth on the team with 24 tackles this season, including a team-high nine-tackle effort in the season opener against Georgia Tech. Last Saturday at North Carolina, Turner was once again in the middle of the action and recorded six tackles (one for loss) and contributed to the game-winning stop on a two-point conversion attempt in the win over the Tar Heels.

The redshirt junior is just having fun.

“It’s cool to look back and see how far I’ve come since I got here, and I still have another year to go,” Turner said this week. “It’s been a cool journey.”

Turner, who was offered by head coach Dabo Swinney, redshirted in 2016 but has been on a steady incline since 2017. He was at his best at the end of last season when he recorded an interception against Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl and recorded four tackles against Alabama in the National Championship.

“It’s crazy. This is going on year four for me now,” Turner said. “I’ve been here a while and come a long way from starting off redshirt freshman year, playing a little special teams, kind of getting my feet wet a little bit, playing and just getting out there. And then the next year, playing a little bit on defense, getting to contribute a little bit, and now getting to be out there and playing starter reps some games and just getting to be a big contributor to the defense. It’s really fun to get out there and actually play and just be a big part of the defense.”

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables has gone with more of a dime look this season – trusting the veterans in his secondary to make plays – and Turner is considered a starter even though he may not be on the field for the first snap.

Turner had just two offers coming out of high school – UAB and Clemson – and said he knows what’s gotten him to this point.

“Just a lot of work — day after day, just continuing to grind and not letting outside forces or other things bring you down,” Turner said. “Just continuing to work in the weight room, especially film work with Coach V, learning the defense and just getting the reps at practice and stuff. Year after year, you start getting more confidence, getting more comfortable out there and slowly progressing.”

Could the NFL be next?

“As a college player, as a competitor, you always want to see if you can make the next step, the next jump,” he said. “So, when that time comes, that’s definitely something I’m interested in.”

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