Michigan landed its second commitment in a four-day span with today's addition of three-star Atlanta (GA) Buford RB Christian Turner, who announced his commitment on Twitter. Turner visited Michigan last week between two trips to rival schools; the former had him leaning hard towards Notre Dame, while the latter, as is tradition, sealed the deal for Michigan:
Turner is the fifth commit in the 2018 class, joining IN OG Emil Ekiyor, MI DE Aidan Hutchinson, GA OLB Otis Reese, and GA DB Myles Sims. Yes, 60% of Michigan's class is comprised of Georgia recruits.
|3*, #72 RB||3*, #26 RB||
3*, #19 RB,
3*, 87, #29 RB,
4*, #30 RB,
Turner's early rankings peg him in the 20-30 range among 2018 RBs, with Scout as a low outlier. That's likely to change. According to The Mathlete's rank-by-offers method, Turner is the #10 RB and #161 overall prospect in the class. He's also coming off a strong performance in March's The Opening Atlanta regional that had Scout calling him one of the surprises of the camp.
At the Atlanta regional, Turner measured in at 5'11", 187 pounds. While not a huge back, he's got a solid build.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, class impact, and more.]
Scouting on Turner is mostly limited to one camp appearance, so let's take a look at his film first.
highly recommend the play at 4:08
Buford doesn't play the highest level of competition in Georgia, which is apparent on his film; his offensive line outclasses the opponents. With that out of the way, I really like what he shows here, especially for a back destined for a Harbaugh offense.
Turner runs behind his pads, generating good power, and possesses great balance. He keeps his legs moving through contact. He doesn't waste time finding the right hole and hitting it; his vision is a strength, and he gets a lot of big runs by seeing and executing the move he needs to make when he hits the second level. Notably, he does this behind both gap and zone blocking. While he doesn't quite have elite top-end speed, he's got good burst out of his cuts, and he goes North-South at the first opportunity. We don't get to see him as a blocker or receiver; as a runner, he's a very good prospect. I expect his rankings will be more in line with his offers before too long.
ESPN has an undated underclassman eval for Turner, and they don't find much to critique for a player they rank as a three-star:
STRENGTHS: Tall with great length. Has the long speed to take it the distance. Patient and savvy runner who consistently finds the open lanes. Slasher who explodes out of his cuts and is difficult to handle in space. Well-balanced runner who flashes the ability to break through tackles and push the pile. Possesses natural hands. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Needs to add bulk and functional strength. Lacks experience as a blocker in pass protection. ... BOTTOM LINE: Turner has all the tools to be an every down running back at the next level. Once he adds some size, he should be able to handle the load for a Power 5 program. Overall, he's a very good prospect with upside.
That was all the scouting available on Turner until the end of March, when he had a standout showing at The Opening Atlanta regional. He was the third player listed on the top ten offensive performer list of Scout's Michael Clark:
Buford (Ga.) running back Christian Turner is not the biggest back, but he is a dynamic football player. The 5-10, 185-pound Turner showed tremendous quickness and impressive speed. He was also very instinctive and elusive, leaving many defenders grasping at air throughout the day.
In the list of top surprises from the event, Scout added one more detail:
He has added some good weight during the offseason and looked very strong.
247 left him out of their top five offensive players, but noted he's "an explosive prospect that caught the football well." While four-star AL RB Harold Joiner had more attention heading into the event, it was Turner who came away with an invite to The Opening finals.
Turner's offer sheet includes Louisville, Miami, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mizzou, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others.
Buford is one of the stronger programs in Georgia's AAAAA classification, the third-largest in the state. The school has produced a number of Power 5 signees, mostly for SEC/ACC schools. They've mostly been in the three-star range; five prospects ranked four-stars or better have come out of Buford in the Rivals era (2002-present).
According to his 247 profile, Turner had 1100 yards and 18 touchdowns on 110 carries as a junior, and 82 carries for 789 yards and nine TDs as a sophomore.
FAKE 40 TIME
Turner only tested in the vertical leap at the Atlanta Opening regional; he recorded an impressive 37.7-inch jump.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
I'm a fan of Turner's film, and his experience running both gap and zone plays in an up-tempo spread may be more of a benefit than you'd think in Harbaugh's offense now that Greg Frey is on the staff. As with every back who'll step foot on campus under Harbaugh, Turner will face plenty of competition. After a year or two of cooling his heels behind some combination of Karan Higdon, Chris Evans, Kareem Walker, O'Maury Samuels, and Kurt Taylor, Turner should work his way into the committee, and I wouldn't be surprised if he develops into a productive every-down back with all-conference capability.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
In a down year for RBs, Michigan could stand pat with adding Turner to their current stable of backs, though it'd never be too much of a surprise to see Harbaugh go after a second if there's a good fit.
This projects to be a smaller class than recent years, with the final number probably falling in the ~20 range. Positions of need include QB, WR, TE, OT, DT, CB, and S. With the Spring Game on Saturday, this is setting up to be a big visit weekend; top targets and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman teammates QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and TE Brevin Jordan are expected to be among those on campus.