Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

FRIENDS, MORE THAN OPPOSITES

Oregon senior standouts Paulson, Turner bond as roommates
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Oregon Ducks defensive end Terrell Turner shares a light moment with coach Chip Kelly near the end of the Washington State game.

EUGENE — Last summer, David Paulson and Terrell Turner were each looking for a roommate. Paulson’s former roommates had graduated, and Turner was living alone and hoping to lower his rent. After a brief discussion, the two decided to move into an off-campus apartment together. Paulson and Turner are fifth-year seniors and leaders for the Oregon Ducks’ offense and defense, respectively, but they are polar opposites on and off the field. Turner is a 6-3, 265-pound defensive end from Crenshaw High in South Los Angeles, near USC and in a city with 3.8 million people. He is outgoing and black. Paulson is a 6-4, 240-pound tight end from Auburn, Wash., a Seattle-Tacoma suburb of about 70,000. He is soft-spoken and white. Living together, though, Paulson and Turner have strengthened a friendship that started when they were freshmen. And, they have made each other better on the field. “Some people think it’s kind of funny that we’re such opposites and we’re living together,” Paulson says. “But it’s a lot of fun.” Paulson and Turner, who will start for the Ducks in Friday’s 5 p.m. Pac-12 championship game against UCLA at Autzen Stadium, spend a lot of time watching football, and talking. Turner does most of the talking. “It’s perfect, because I can talk to him all I want and he doesn’t even say that much to me,” Turner says. “Then, when he does want to talk to me, it’s just like a blessing. Being blessed with the presence of David Paulson.” Being around someone as gregarious as Turner has helped Paulson begin to break out of his shell. “Because he’s so outgoing, he kind of makes me more outgoing,” Paulson says. “He brings that out in me a little bit.” Turner says he and Paulson both keep the apartment tidy. Paulson, who is in a masters program in business administration, often has to be alone to do his homework. Turner, who has all but finished his graduation requirements, has little homework but allows Paulson quiet time to study. The two Ducks say they like the cultural differences between the two. “It’s very different,” Turner says. “But we’re both open to being as diverse as we can be and just getting to know each other.” “He’s just Terrell,” Paulson says. “I don’t really think about black, white or anything like that.” Turner and Paulson have become even more like brothers because of their parents. Paulson’s mother and father, Scott and Kristi Paulson, come to Eugene for all the games, and Turner has come to treat them like his own parents. “Every time I see his mom and dad, I say hi to them like they’re my parents,” Turner says. Paulson recently met Turner’s parents when Eddie and Sharie Turner came for last week’s Civil War win over Oregon State so they could walk onto the field with their son on Senior Day. Paulson took to them quickly. On Sunday night, Turner was hanging out alone in his room. After awhile, it occurred to Turner that Paulson had been in the apartment’s front room, talking to Turner’s parents for two hours. “You’re not bored with my parents yet?” Turner asked. “No,” Paulson said. “I love them. They’re funny.” When Paulson and Turner are not mingling with each other’s parents, they are talking football. Typically, the tight end’s blocking duties entail taking out the defensive end, while the D-end’s fastest road to a ball carrier is straight through the tight end. Turner and Paulson give each other firsthand advice about how to handle their counterparts. “I tell him plenty of times what he should be doing to block some D-ends, and then he helps me out all the time, like if a tight end is trying to cut me off,” Turner says. “Evidently, it’s working well.” This season, Turner has 47 tackles (sixth on the team), including nine for loss (third on the squad) and 5 1/2 sacks (third). “Terrell is having a great senior year,” Ducks coach Chip Kelly says. “It’s not surprising to me because it’s based on his preparation. He’s worked extremely hard to be in this situation, and we as a coaching staff expected him to play at this level.” Blocking is just part of Paulson’s game. He has become the Ducks’ go-to receiver in the clutch. This season, he has caught 28 passes for 386 yards and five touchdowns. He ranks third on the team in all three categories, behind De’Anthony Thomas and Lavasier Tuinei. “He’s our most valuable player in terms of so many things he does for us,” Kelly says. “He never comes off the field. He doesn’t care if he ever gets the ball. He’s content to block. It’s the same thing whether he has a 10-catch performance or a zero-catch performance.” Paulson has proved himself to be one of the surest-handed receivers in the nation. Turner marvels at his friend’s ability to come up with impossible catches. “That man is crazy,” Turner says. “Them ain’t even hands. I don’t know what they are. They’re like mitts or something, because he just catches everything.” While the advice Turner and Paulson give each other is valuable, feeding off the other’s desire to become the best player possible seems to be just as important to their success. “Seeing how motivated he is might rub off on me and my motivation might rub off on him,” Paulson says. Friday’s Pac-12 title game will be their last time playing at Autzen. “It’s going to be kind of sad,” Paulson says. “But at the same time, it’s going to be cool that it’s the Pac-12 championship, first one ever. It’s a great opportunity.” And the friendship they have formed will stick with them, along with the memories of all they have accomplished on the gridiron. “We came here in the same year,” Turner says. “We walked out there on Senior Day. His parents were here, my parents were here. He is just like my brother.”