Position: Wide Receiver
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 185 pounds
High School: Sam Houston HS (Tex.)
Turner's 32 catches for 417 yards last season can hardly be called a breakout year, but it's what the slot receiver did in the second half of the season that has Nebraska fans excited for 2013.
In the last six games of the season, Turner averaged three catches a game, for 37 yards a contest, and found the end zone three times – including his first career touchdown against Michigan State.
With just under ten seconds to play and the Huskers down 24-21 in East Lansing, quarterback Taylor Martinez found Turner on an out route for a six-yard game winning touchdown.
“We called the play from the sideline and I knew the ball was coming to me,” said Turner. “When we run that play they only throw the ball to me. When it happened it was just a blessing to score the winning touchdown against Michigan State. I knew I was becoming a better receiver.”
Nebraska figures to field one of the best wide receiver groups in the country in 2013, and likely the best in the Big Ten. With the return of Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa wanting to end his senior year in style, it's hard to imagine Turner's numbers doubling from a year ago, but the junior's production should be on the rise.
“I got confidence after the catch against Michigan State. I got confidence and believed in myself,” said Turner before Nebraska's Fan Day on Friday. “With Taylor being such a great leader, he came to me and said, ‘We could actually use you, we should have been using you and we’re going to look your way a lot more,’ and it hit me as a player. It made me practice harder and prepare. I became a better player all around hearing that from the leader of the team, the quarterback, the guy that gets you the ball. It does something to you and that’s what it did both on and off the field as a person.”
His teammate have seen a difference in him as well.
“I've noticed a shift in his dedication, hard work, and attention to detail,” said Bell during the spring. “That's a thing that comes with maturity. Jamal should really be what I was last year, a redshirt sophomore. That's not being disrespectful, he got to play some his freshman year, but probably not as much as he would have liked.
It's been interesting to see him come into the role of leader. He's far ahead of where I was last year when it comes to leadership and what he's capable of. I'm looking forward to see the year he can have.”
A spike in Turner's production in 2013 could also result from the junior getting more comfortable at the position. A high school quarterback, the Texas product has been learning the wide receiver spot for just two years.
“Coming to college at the collegiate level, against the best of the best, playing a position I had never played was so hard. I wasn’t used to blocking. I wasn’t used to catching the ball and getting hit because I’d never caught the ball before or anything like that,” said Turner. “Guys like Kenny Bell, Tim Marlowe helped me out a lot with route running and things like that. I leaned onto those guys to teach me how to practice, how to be a wide receiver, because I had never done it before.”
How he ended up in Lincoln:
Turner joined Nebraska after being an outstanding dual threat quarterback, racking up more than 10,000 yards in three years as a starter.
As a senior, he rushed for 1,888 yards and 35 rushing touchdowns, while also throwing for 1,551 yards and eight touchdowns. These states earned him an honorable mention Class 5A all-state pick. The Texas 5A high school product was a four-star prospect coming out of high school.
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