Nick Turner: 2020 Pro Prospect Interview
Name: Nick Turner
Q: What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
Everyone has goals when they begin a season. Some are individualized and some team-oriented. Personally, I set out to be the best teammate and player I could be with a brand-new coaching staff. Having a completely new staff for my last year of eligibility was something I wasn’t expecting at all. I wanted to Grad transfer when the old staff left but decided to stay after some self-reflection and conversations with Coach Fox. Personally, I wanted to be an all-conference player through helping my guys any way I could. It was a mix of an individualized goal and a team-oriented goal. Going 1-11 is never easy especially when you feel like you let your teammates down in games. After the season, I looked back and realized that I accomplished a lot of what I set out to do being all-conference, team captain, academic all-conference, and more.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
My coaches and teammates would say the same thing. The game is my first love and I show it every day on and off the field. Whether we’re in practice, games, meetings, or even at lunch, majority of my conversations begin with something football related. The game has saved my life and I will continue to pay it back until I have nothing left. With all the struggles I’ve dealt with and adversity I have faced, I owe it the world. I play with my heart on my sleeve and put myself on the line for those who are counting on me. It may be a weakness at times but I see no other way to play.
Q: When you are studying film, what do you focus on to improve your game?
If I’m watching film during the season, it is primarily focused on the opponent we are facing that week. Like everyone else, I look for tendencies that I can pick up to gain a competitive advantage and expose weak spots. I begin with Redzone plays because you cannot be a successful defense without stopping opponents in the Redzone and/or forcing field goals. At the end of the week, I go back with my coach and we look at more individualized film. Am I aligned correctly? Did I make the right read? Did I get the D-Line lined up correctly? These are a few questions that come up in these meetings especially as the Mike backer in a defense predicated around its backers level of play. When I train over the summer I go back and look at weak areas that I can work on to make sure they do not show up again on film. Can I defeat the cut? How am I tackling in space? Am I making the right move on a back/lineman when my number is called? All backers have their own way of watching (or not watching) film but, this is how I’ve done it to this point.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
Some players have speed, some strength, some IQ. My football IQ is something I pride myself on especially as the game progresses. As stated before, I look for tendencies on film. Most times offenses will have a plan of attack for any given game and learning that quickly is something I do well. Picking up on snap counts, audibles, personnel changes, injuries, and the OC’s plan of attack are all examples of what I look at to adapt to the current game. This is the reason I have excelled over opponents in the past and what I plan on using in the future.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
Every day is a grind in the offseason especially when training for the professional level. Currently, I’m still enrolled in graduate courses pursuing my MBA. The good thing is they are twice/week allowing me to train hard and then some. Currently, I am training at EFT Sports Performance in Highland Park, IL. I’ve been training there since I was a little kid and have seen many pros come through there hoping to follow in their footsteps, I decided to invest in myself driving 2 hours there and 2 hours back 6 days/week while working 10pm-5am to afford my training. This is all to make sure I am in the best shape for my pro day. It’s definitely a grind but if I don’t believe in myself then I can’t expect any coaches or owners to do the same.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
Anywhere I have gone, leadership has been a part of my personality. Whether it be captain of my football team, leader in my school project team, or just someone people look to for guidance, I always want to be in that position. If I’m blessed enough to have a similar position at the next level then I will step into that role without hesitation and lead my brothers into whatever adversity and success we may encounter. On the contrary, being a good leader means knowing when and how to follow. Taking criticism without feeling slighted or creating tension among teammates is something I pride myself in. Schematically, understanding a defense comes quickly to me. I learn the base principles first like everyone else but also ask why we are running them. This helps me better understand where weak spots are in our defense and how teams will attempt to attack it. With this, being able to read and diagnose offenses as they progress throughout the game is another strength I will bring to a team that gives me an opportunity. Lastly, fear of another man doesn’t reside in my body. Some people shy away from contact and there are times this is necessary. I tend to hedge on the invitation of contact no matter how big, small, strong, or fast someone is.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL/CFL or any other pro leagues?
I would argue that there are not many guys in the country who are making as many sacrifices as I am. Driving over 500 miles/week just to prepare for a chance at an opportunity is rough but there’s no way in hell I will stop. I have invested in myself and have too many people who are counting on me to be at the highest level. When someone believes in me, I will go to the ends of the earth for them. If that means changing positions, transforming my body, or even running my face through someone on kickoff then I’ll do it. Once I get an opportunity, I will always improve myself and the organization as a whole to make sure we are successful in the present and the future.