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West Rowan’s Devin Turner was ‘born to play football’

By Marny Hendrick
sports@salisburypost.com

MT. ULLA – West Rowan defensive tackle Devin Turner is now entering his fourth season as destructive and disruptive force for the Falcons. So how to best define him?

As one West coach stated emphatically recently … “Devin Turner was born to play football.”

At 6-1, 290 rock-solid pounds, Turner has been an outstanding performer on outstanding West Rowan teams since his freshman year, growing physically and mentally throughout that time. Turner has grown an inch and put on 45 pounds of muscle in that time frame. He is a two-time all-conference and all-county performer in the rugged, 3A South Piedmont Conference and with no lack of confidence, he feels the best is yet to come.

“I play to get into the backfield and disrupt the play,” Turner says with his ever-present wide smile. “If the running back is faster than me, I have to find a way to get him before he gets me. I get double-teamed all the time, but I fight through it.”

Despite fighting through a serious torn labrum injury at the end of his sophomore year, Turner feels he has continued to progress as a defensive force. “My coach (Brett Graham) told me if I worked hard, I could start as a sophomore, so I have started ever since,” he said. “After the injury, I worked hard, got bigger, got smarter and got faster — and I hit the weight room a lot.”

During last years’ 10-4 season, the Falcons went three games deep into the 3A playoffs before falling to Hibriten. Defense was a key reason for the success and Turner was right in the middle of it all. He posted 85 tackles (40 solo), notched 9.5 sacks and recorded 25 tackles for loss.

For his senior season Turner expects more of the same. “Our defensive line is good but our size is not as big as in the past,” he said, “But we are fast. I want to dominate the middle as quickly and as fast as possible. I want to beat every guard and every center on every play.” There’s no reason to doubt him.

Turner is a defensive tackle but he wears a linebacker number: 44. His freshman year, Coach Brett Graham informed him that was his own number is high school. “To me, Coach Graham was a great player in high school, so I said alright, I want that number,” Turner added.

Graham just shakes his head when hearing Turner wears his No. 44 to honor the coach, but he is a believer in what Turner does on the field.

“Devin has gotten better every year,” Graham said. “He did a good job of rehabbing his shoulder and I think he has gotten a bit leaner. Plus, he is smarter and way more technical than in the past. Devin is one of our main leaders on defense and is a very explosive player.”

Falcons’ head coach Joe Nixon is also a big fan of Turner and his growth as a player. “When you think about a defensive lineman, Devin Turner fits the mold,” Nixon said. “He is athletic, fast and plays hard. He plays the game the right way. He is a pleasure to coach. Devin is definitely a leader of our team and our defense. The guys look up to him and when Devin speaks, they listen.”

The Falcons are moving to the newly revamped North Piedmont Conference (still 3A) this season and Turner is looking forward to the challenge against new opponents like South Iredell and Statesville. “But at West Rowan, we always look at the big picture,” Turner says. “We just want to win games, no matter who we play … nothing fancy, just smash mouth football.”

Turner definitely wants to continue his football career after this season “to continue to do what I love,” noting he has interest from several schools like UNC-Pembroke and Charlotte. He may even look to go the junior college route, to eventually get to Division I. He knows what it takes to get there.

“You have got to grind every day, on and off the field,” Turner said. “That means on the field, in the classroom, with the books, plus stay out of trouble when you are at home. That is the way I do it.”

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