2011 doesn’t seem like that long ago. Husker football wasn’t officially part of the Big Ten, but it didn’t exist in the Big 12 realm, either. The Nebraska Cornhuskers tromped onto Tom Osborne Field to give their fans the last taste of legitimate football they’d see on it for months.
A name on everyone’s lips before the game was Jamal Turner’s. You couldn’t discuss the scrimmage afterwards without bringing up No. 10.
“The Next LeSean McCoy”, he was sometimes called. He even did a McCoy-esque somersault into the end zone to score a touchdown. The Big Red Network’s Darren Carlson wrote of his exploits shortly after the game:
…he was displaying his talent at Memorial stadium, racking up 228 total yards and scoring on a 49-yard reception. His performance shows he’ll likely give NU a much-needed offensive weapon in the 2011 season.
About that “offensive weapon” title, Turner’s stats for the upcoming season weren’t quite those equated with greatness.
However, he was a freshman. Those aren’t bad stats for a newbies learning the ropes of big-time college football, are they? With a year under his belt, having worked in offensive coordinator Tim Beck’s system, a super sophomore year was on the horizon. Right?
Alright! Now we’re talking!
The light bulb turned on, Turner nearly doubled his receiving yardage and scored three times. He also added 155 yards on kick returns. Surely as an upperclassman, it was time for Turner to bust out and become one of the best that the Big Ten had to offer.
…I see. With the same offensive coordinator and quarterback, working out of the same slot position that earned him 417 yards and three scores the previous year, he only managed to break the century mark and claim one touchdown?
It was at this point that something seemed just plain off about Turner.
He wasn’t catching balls he should, had difficulty running routes, he wasn’t even allowed to return kicks. Whatever goofy little guy was messing with his wiring was doing a major disservice.
2014 is meant to be the year it all comes together. He’s a senior. No more questions about if he’s being utilized properly or if he has the mental capacity for either Beck’s playbook or the game itself.
With four years in the program, he should be able to remain among the top three wide receivers.
Against Florida Atlantic, Kenny Bell looked good, Jordan Westerkamp looked downright fantastic and Turner…if I told you he had a catch, would you believe me without looking at the stats?
Yes, he had a catch (singular) for nine yards, caught on a 2nd-and-7 pass from Ryker Fyfe as the third quarter ticked down and Nebraska was up 48-7.
Tommy Armstrong, Jr. threw to him right before the first half ended, but the quarterback’s pass hit the turf.
Is it fair to write Turner off after one game into the season? Maybe not, but his two catches for 37 yards in this year’s Red-White Spring Game don’t inspire confidence.
Bell and Westerkamp aren’t going to suddenly get worse. De’Mornay Pierson-El’s first catch at the college level was for a touchdown.
Brandon Reilly and Sam Burtch still exist as do Alonzo Moore and Taariq Allen. If No. 10 can’t contribute on offense, how about on a special teams unit that’s struggling?
He had his turns to stand out this spring. When game time came, we saw Bell, Westerkamp and Pierson-El.
Turner may have one opportunity left during this upcoming weekend against McNeese State.
Assuming the Huskers are crushing the Cowboys into the FieldTurf (as they should), he likely gets the chance to show he can be a legitimate threat in Nebraska’s passing game. Perhaps Carlson’s words from 2011 still have a chance to come true.
If the senior from Arlington can’t shine on Saturday, there’s no more chances for him to.
The “bust” label will officially apply.
Be sure to like Husker Corner on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, snag the FanSided app (iOS) (Android) and subscribe to our newsletter below to keep plugged into Husker Nation from all over the globe.