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Posted on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

J.T. Turner could be a big contributor for Michigan football team's secondary

By Dave Birkett

J.T. Turner practiced enough with the Michigan football team's first- and second-team defense last year that coaches thought about pulling his redshirt when injuries and poor play in the secondary began to mount.

“It was very tempting,” defensive backs coach Tony Gibson said Sunday. “But I think the best thing that could have happened, happened - keeping that redshirt.”

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J.T. Turner

Turner will be one of the most watched Wolverines when Michigan opens spring football practice next month.

The No. 2-ranked recruit in Michigan’s 2009 class, Turner did not see the field last year after an eligibility issue delayed his arrival on campus.

He missed the first three days of practice, got a late start in pads, and while that doesn’t seem like a lot, Gibson said Turner already was behind from not participating in summer workouts.

“He wasn’t here in the summer lifting and going to class and doing all those things, so it’s really a few months,” Gibson said.

Once Turner got settled, he showed why he was such a well-regarded recruit.

Gibson said Turner split time between the scout team and regular defense by midseason, and coaches salivated at the thought of getting him in the rotation.

“If we’d have got him in earlier last year with the NCAA stuff, I think he’d have played a little bit,” Gibson said. “He’s a good-looking kid. There’s a lot of guys I’m anxious to see back there, but he’s one that sticks out.”

Turner will start at cornerback this spring, where Michigan has a dire need after losing Donovan Warren to the NFL, but also could play safety. At 6-foot-2 and close to 200 pounds, he’ll be one of Michigan’s most physically intimidating defensive backs wherever he ends up.

“I told him, ‘By the time you end up leaving Michigan you’re going to look like (Shawn) Crable,’” said Lexington (Ohio) High coach B.J. Payne, who did not coach Turner in high school but saw him at a prep basketball game last month. “He just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Turner’s ultimate position may depend on where Michigan decides to play Troy Woolfolk.

The only full-time starter returning in the secondary, Woolfolk played five games at safety last year but finished the season at cornerback. Gibson said “it hasn’t been determined yet” where Woolfolk will play next year.

“Wherever we find our best 11, he’s one of them, he’s going to be out there somewhere,” Gibson said. “The good thing about him, he’s versatile enough to play both.”

Incoming freshmen Demar Dorsey, Cullen Christian, Courtney Avery and Terrence Talbott also will vie for time at cornerback, and Gibson praised J.T. Floyd, who started two games at corner late in the season.

“I really like J.T., like the way he learns and all the things that he can do,” Gibson said. “Played really well in the Ohio State game the last game of the year, so he’s a kid that we’re excited about and hopefully he’s going to be able to help us on defense and special teams. We’re going to put him at corner and go from there.”

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Sat, Mar 27, 2010 : 1:26 p.m.

SUCKEYEHATER I hope you are right because last year half the time they didn't know what they were doing. I watched many plays on SLO-mo to see what was going wrong and it was really bad,high school stuff.Like Williams and Brown double teaming a receiver and both expecting the other one to knock it down, and then the receiver catches it for a 30 yard gain.Or how about Browns two Tds against Penn State in the end zone.What was he doing 40 yards down the field in the end zone.He was supposed to be a line backer.Warren being beated deep time and again, and Kovacs coming up a foot short on a diving attempt for a sack on Darryl Clark,or chasing a guy who had beaten him with no chance of catching him because he was simply too slow.We lost BG,one of hte best in hte nation,so we better have some idea of a co- ordination on defense and having our #1 recruit going head to head with a journeyman DB is not something to be excited about.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.

i have had posts removed from when i verbally attack a poster after a hate post. i have been told they are removed due to name calling not allowed. so i am trying to comply, but i would ask not to have a double standard. i like a clean post as much as the next guy, but if you allow posts referring to rich rodriquez as rich rodriguez-bush i detect mixed signals. all i ask for is consistency. also reference the all-caps excuse i have been given for (screaming). yet when these policies are not applied in a consistent manner, i question the motives for censorship. thank you.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.

Rich Rodriguez-Bush basically doesnt understand about cohessiveness, and chemistry and how important that factors in on Defense..(if so he wouldve kept Ron E as the coordinator he had the defense on point)..Instead he runs to florida chasing that speed...Im optomistic about JTT at corner, I like his size but that g rob scheme is flat out ughhh..playing off 7 yds get u quick passed on all day. (psu game)..The depth in the secondary makes me comfortable assumin the best guy will shine through I say... rcb-Woolfolk ss-Gordon rcb-Turner fs-Dorsey


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 4:53 a.m.

buzz, i couldn't agree with you more. given time rich rod will have um competing in the bcs. haters forget that he took a mid level team (wv) to a #2 ap ranking more recently than lloyd did. i respected lloyd but we needed a new and fresh direction. in lloyd's last game, he was able to beat urban meyer using talent and a spread offensive scheme. well, we now have the spread-master and his spread style talent is arriving (devin gardner) as well as evolving (tate, denard, roundtree). our defense will evolve soon with defensive talent like campbell, roh, van bergen, woolfolk; recruits like turner, cullen christian, and dorsey; and a steady defensive coordinator (g-rob) with a finally consistent scheme. UM will turn the corner this year and become a force to be reckoned with. again, given time, we will soon be in the bcs championship conversation. too bad for the haters, they're soon running out of time to hate.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 4:01 a.m.

We need many of these players to contribute. A defense is not one player like it pretty much was with BG. Look how that turned out for the team in total. BG and DW leaving is a wakeup call for all the players to stepup. I also think the defense will get better cuz Greg Robinson is still the DC. The offense will be also more dynamic to be honest, so that and an a defense that is improving is a dangerous team. Not the shut-down defense Um had b4 but its a start. RR is recruiting some top LBs all over the nation. I can see him picking up 3-4 LBs. The defense will bulk up and most importantly they will still be fast if not faster. RR is recruiting fast defenders with size. i believe RR is doing great job in recruiting and soon his record will be turning around. GO BLUE!!!!!!


Mon, Feb 22, 2010 : 4:32 p.m.

The loss of Warren really hurts but he wasn't a stud either. I think the defense will be better simply because the players will understand their roles better. When you're new and the DC (Greg Robinson) is new, theres no chemistry. It's difficult when a new DC comes in with experienced player much less a bunch of 1st and 2nd year 18 and 19 year olds. I think the key to us being good (not great) on defense this year is how dedicated the returning players are. If they have any pride and realize that they looked like garbage last year, they will step up and make somebody pay. Hopefully that somebody is MSU, Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue* and the Suckeyes. Sure, beat the rest of them bums but lay down and old fashion smack down on the teams listed....


Mon, Feb 22, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

Turner MUST step up this year to become at least a solid starter. With Donovan Warren now gone, we need some talented players in the defensive backfield. Hopefully, a few of the freshmen will be able to help out too.