Though most people might be a little bummed about being injured, Nolan Turner looked at it as an opportunity.
The Clemson safety had his right shoulder worked on in January, shortly after the national championship game, and was forced to miss the Tigers’ nine spring practices. However, instead of being disappointed and sulking over things, Turner looked at the bright side.
“I thought it was great for me,” the senior said following Thursday’s practice, the Tigers’ seventh day of fall camp. “It was an opportunity to kind of sit back and just kind of watch and learn the defense as a whole and pick up on really mastering what everybody else is doing, and not just at my position.”
Turner literally became a coach on the field. He said being able to teach the young players what was going on and how to react to certain situations, allowed him to ultimately master the defense.
“So, when I am back there, I am teaching the young guys what to do here and what to look for here and just the defense as a whole,” he said. “Ultimately, everything just starts clicking and you just got a great feel for it.”
Turner is one of the more experienced players on the Clemson defense. Though he technically is not a returning starter, he has played a great deal in the last two seasons. Last year, he was a part of a Clemson defense that had one of the nation’s best secondaries.
The free safety has played in 43 games during his time at Clemson, including four starts. He ranked sixth on the team with 66 tackles last season, including two tackles for a loss and tied Isaiah Simmons with a team-best 10 passes broken up. Turner also had two interceptions, including the game-clinching interception to beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, sending the Tigers to the national championship game.
Now, Turner is not only Clemson’s new starter at free safety, but he is also its new coach on the field.
“In the spring, it was just kind of a great time for me to sit back and just observe everything as a whole. I thought I really took another step in my game throughout the spring just by watching and teaching,” Turner said.
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