Clackamas' Cole Turner ends debate, commits to Nevada-Reno
If any college football programs were preparing to extend a scholarship offer to Clackamas' Cole Turner, it's too late.
The Cavaliers' senior wide receiver made an oral commitment this week to play for the University of Nevada-Reno next year.
Turner said he told Wolf Pack coach Jay Norvell of his decision Tuesday night and then spread the word via Twitter on Wednesday, although nothing becomes official until Dec. 20 -- the first day high school seniors can sign National Letters of Intent to play football during the 2018-19 school year.
"I just felt it was the best place for me, and then I just figured, 'Why wait?'" said Turner, who also considered offers from Air Force, Oregon State, Portland State, Eastern Washington, Idaho, UC-Davis, and Weber State.
"The main thing it came down to for me was I probably had the best relationship with Nevada's coaching staff. I just feel like what they want to do with me in their offense at the next level is something that I can't turn down."
Norvell was named Nevada's head coach in December after serving as the receivers coach and passing game coordinator at Arizona State. He also had stints as the offensive coordinator at Nebraska, UCLA and Oklahoma, and coached in the NFL with Indianapolis and Oakland.
He introduced the Wolf Pack to the pass-happy Air Raid offense -- a four-receiver formation that is a spinoff of the run and shoot offense that Mouse Davis popularized at Portland State in the late 70s.
"We want to spread the field and make people defend the field," Norvell said at the time he was hired. "We want to be fast. We want to go no-huddle. We want to run the ball physically, but we always want to be able to throw the football. We want a quarterback who can throw the ball and be accurate. We want to give our perimeter players a chance to make plays."
What wide receiver wouldn't be drawn to that?
Change of heart
The timing of Turner's decision came as a bit of a surprise, coming two weeks after he said he was in no hurry to make a decision.
He said that Air Force, Nevada and Oregon State were at the top of his list, followed by Indiana, San Diego State and Hawaii. But his plan was to get through the high school season first, and then go on a few officials visits before making a decision.
Something changed last week, but Turner said at no point in the recruiting process did anyone from Nevada put pressure on him to make a quick decision.
"None," he said. "I mean, they didn't press me. They didn't give me a time frame or say, 'Commit now or never.' That was more what another school was trying to do to me, and I didn't really like that."
Turner said there were parts of the recruiting process that he enjoyed, and parts that he was more than ready to put behind him.
"It feels great to have the decision made," he said. "It feels like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and now I can just focus on my team and give them everything I have and just enjoy my senior year.
"The recruiting process has been fun. At the same time, it can be frustrating, but you can't let it consume you. You can't be disappointed with what you end up with or where you end up, because at the end of the day, any free college is good college."
Clackamas coach Joe Bushman said the Wolf Pack is getting more than a 6-foot-6, 195-pound wide receiver with outstanding speed and great hands.
"They're getting a good kid, too," Bushman said. "Cole's attitude is awesome; loves football. He's just fun to coach.
"He's super-smart, too. He's always asking me questions. Not in a disrespectful way, but he'll ask, 'Why are we doing this?' He just wants to know. He wants to know big-picture stuff.
"I asked him the other day if he wants to be a football coach some day, because he's really got that mind."
Turner credits the work he did during the past two summers with EForce Football, the Lake Oswego-based skills development program, with helping make his dream of playing major college football a reality.
"From where I was my sophomore year to where I'm at right now, there is a light year's difference, and 100 percent of it has to do with Eforce," Turner said. "All the coaches on that staff took me under their wing and have helped me become the player that I am today. Without them, I wouldn't even be close to where I'm at.
"The Clackamas coaches know their stuff, but we don't have anyone on our staff who had really gone on and played at the next level as a receiver. So, it was nice to get that input from somewhere else."
Turner was the Cavaliers leading receiver last season with 46 catches for 652 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also had 25 carries for 136 rushing yards, 11 kickoff returns for 302 yards, and caught a pair of two-point conversion passes.
All together, he touched the ball an average of seven times a game, playing in what was mostly a run-oriented, ball-control offense that featured tailbacks Jake McGreevy and Nick Vaughn.
This season, Turner expects to see Cavaliers put the ball in the air more than they did a year ago.
"It will be a different style offense than what everyone saw last year," Turner said. "I wouldn't say that we're only going to pass, by any means, and we're not going to shy away from the run either, but we're going to our strengths."
In addition to Turner, the Cavaliers also have Nick Ball, Aric Bergers, Braelan Bettles, Chad Bletko, Matt Dalzell, Jack Dollens, Richard Kennewell, Jamorrious Middleton, Thomas Tolonen, Garrison Tooke, and Ques Shanks at wide receiver.
"It's not just me," Turner said before Friday's season opener against Summit in Bend. "Everyone can catch the ball on this team. I think our fourth and fifth receivers would start at almost any other school, anywhere."
Personally, Turner hopes his statistics this season are strong enough to put him in the running for the league's Offensive Player of the Year award.
"As a team, our first goal is to win our first two non-conference games, then win out in conference, and then hopefully keep winning," Turner said. "It it all comes together, I think we can do some special things."