I came home from work today and watched an E:60 segment about Titans running back Chris Johnson and his best friend Kenny Turner. If you haven’t seen the segment, you can read the full story about their friendship and the events that transpired that led to a felony conviction and five years in jail. If you ask Johnson or neighborhood friend Mike-Sims Walker, Turner was the best football player in the neighborhood.
Turner played for the New Mexico State Aggies and, like his best friend, was switched from running back to receiver, back to running back. I only had a chance to watch a half of a game tonight against Georgia, but here are three notable plays the reveal some good things about his game. All of them are pass receptions.
The first play is a 3rd and 7 pass with 5:35 in the first quarter from a 1×2 receiver, 11-personnel pistol set.
The ball arrives over Turner’s outside shoulder and he catches the pass with his hands while on the move.
Turner heads up the flat with a starting point four yards behind the line of scrimmage and as he reaches the line of scrimmage he encounters CB Brandon Boykin charging up the flat. Bokin is a pretty sound tackler, but he tries to cut Turner rather and than hit and wrap. This proves to be a mistake.
Boykin manages to plow ahead just enough to make Turner work to get away from the defender’s angle without getting hit in the legs.
As Turner clears this hit, he demonstrates excellent balance to maintain his footing and gain another six yards his momentum carries him out of bounds.
This was a good display of soft hands, agility, and balance against a difficult obstacle in Boykin. Although the tackle wasn’t technically perfect, the angle and effort were good.
Turner’s next target went for 49 yards with 2:38 in the first quarter from a 12 personnel with twin receivers to the near side. Turner flanked the QB to the twin side in the pistol set.
Turner makes the catch over his inside shoulder with his hands while on the run.
He accelerated up the sideline for another 29 yards before the safety with a strong angle forced Turner outside the boundary. The safety’s angle was a good 5-7 yards over top the runner as he began his pursuit and he got even with Turner as he closed to the sideline.
The final catch was an eight-yard gain on a 1st and 10 swing pass with 6:05 in the half from a 2×2 receiver, 10 personnel shotgun set.This is another swing route to the right flat, but this time Turner faces down two formidable defenders and he makes both miss in a tight space.
The Aggies runner catches the ball at his back shoulder with his hands about five yards behind the line of scrimmage.
But Turner flashes that skill that his friends Mike Sims-Walker and Chris Johnson describe. Turner begins with a lateral cut inside CB Brandon Boykin that eliminates the defender’s angle.
As quickly as he cuts inside Boykin, Turner spins inside the LB Shawn Williams to eliminate his angle over the top.
Based on what I’ve seen thus far, Turner has the athleticism and basic skills of a runner to a high enough level of proficiency to get a free agent contract if he’s not drafted. I’m interested in watching more. There’s some of that Chris Johnson-Taiwan Jones style to him that bears further investigation.