Nolan Turner has experienced a lot in his six years as a football player at Clemson. Yet last week provided him a first.
Somewhat lost in the drama of yet another nail-biting outcome for the Tigers in their 19-13 win over Boston College — one that wasn’t secured until a turnover in the final minute — was an individual honor for the Tigers’ veteran safety. For the first time in his career, Turner was named Clemson’s MVP in the win, which came with the annual Leather Helmet Trophy.
“It was cool,” said Turner, who also received a plaque commemorating the honor. “That was a pretty special moment.”
The replica leather helmet is part of a series that includes the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy, which is annually awarded to the game’s winner. The Boston College Gridiron Club created it in 2008 to honor the legacy of former players Charlie O’Rourke (Boston College) and Banks McFadden (Clemson), who played in the leather-helmet era.
The leather helmet has been doled out to the MVP of the winning team ever since. Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne (twice), Deshaun Watson, C.J. Spiller and Tajh Boyd are among those who have won it in the past, but Turner is only the second defensive player to ever do so for Clemson, joining former defensive end Vic Beasley.
It happened in his final game against Boston College, too, though Turner thought one of his teammates was more deserving. Turner did has part, finishing with seven tackles and a first-half interception that turned into a B.T. Potter field goal. Potter made all four of his field goals in the six-point win, making a strong case for the leather helmet in Turners’ eyes.
“I thought they should’ve given it to B.T. Man, what a weapon he was,” Turner said. “4-for-4 and just scored a bunch of points for us. When you’ve got a guy like that that can execute as well as he does, that’s pretty special. Thought he played a heck of game.
“But it was a cool moment. Thought it was pretty cool to put that helmet on and the little plaque itself. Seen a lot of great players wear it, so it was special.”
Turner and the rest of the defense have spent the last week preparing for their next game at Syracuse on Friday. He has 22 tackles and a pass breakup in three games this season after missing the first two because of an injury.
The 2021 O'Rourke-McFadden Leather Helmet Trophy goes to Nolan Turner! pic.twitter.com/1VHzvY4uaF
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) October 3, 2021