The praise started being heaped on him early.
“This kid has unbelievable long-term potential,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said after an August scrimmage during the preseason. “He could help us this year.”
Ultimately, Cole Turner did.
Clemson’s freshman wideout bided his time this fall. Buried on the depth chart behind the likes of Joseph Ngata, Beaux Collins, E.J. Williams and Adam Randall at the outside receiver spots, Turner was a redshirt candidate throughout the season.
Swinney said as much multiple times, adding the Tigers only wanted to burn a year of Turner’s eligibility if absolutely necessary. Turner will still get to keep it as he played in just one game during the regular season and will appear in a maximum of three even if he gets reps in the Orange Bowl later this month, which keeps him within the four-game redshirt rule.
But with Collins (separated shoulder) out, Turner got his biggest opportunity to show what all the hype is about over the weekend in the ACC championship game. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder caught three passes for a team-best 101 yards, including a 68-yarder from fellow freshman Cade Klubnik that set up Clemson’s second touchdown in its 39-10 rout of North Carolina.
It’s the longest play from scrimmage for the Tigers this season. Turner later caught a back-shoulder throw for a 29-yard completion to keep the offense on the field, the result of the rapport Turner said he and Klubnik have spent all season developing.
“Every day in practice,” Turner said. “We throw a lot, and it definitely paid off.”
It was a part of a breakthrough performance for the receiving corps. Turner is now the only receiver with a 100-yard game this season.
“We talked to him all year about, ‘Hey, we’re going to need you to win a championship,’” Swinney said. “Didn’t know it was going to happen like that. He really doesn’t know what he’s doing yet.”
Much like his older brother, former Clemson safety Nolan Turner, the younger Turner wasn’t a heralded recruit. He was a late addition to the Tigers’ 2022 recruiting class after signing with Clemson in February as a three-star prospect out of Vestavia Hills (Alabama) High.
But Swinney has been high on Turner from the start, and Saturday proved to be the moment that showed why.
“He’s going to be a great player, and he really doesn’t even know that he’s good,” Swinney said. “Super excited just for our future and all of the things that I saw (in that game).”
Dear Old Clemson has a limited number of replica road signs to our store. These have reflective properties just like real road signs. Will Shipley, Tyler Davis and Antonio Williams have signed road signs with their numbers.