Boise State senior defensive tackle Antoine Turner, the formerly homeless junior college transfer who joined the Broncos in 2014, expects to make a major contribution in 2015.
He made 13 tackles last season but saw his playing time dwindle late. Only two of those tackles came in the last four games.
“I didn’t live up to my standards,” Turner said. “... It was frustrating, but I also understood. At the time, I would want the guys that coaches could depend on every single down on the field. I didn’t take any offense to that.
“This year is going to be a little different. I’m going to know what I’m doing, too, and I’m going to be doing it to the best of my ability.”
Turner is playing nose and tackle this spring because the Broncos have a pair of seniors at nose in Armand Nance and Justin Taimatuia. Turner played nose last season.
“It’s crazy how much depth we have, but it’s so interchangeable,” Turner said. “... You can make so many packages. We have our heavy, we have our speed, we can mix it up. Everybody is trying to whup everybody’s behind.”
Turner hopes to move beyond the feel-good story that accompanied his arrival at Boise State. He was homeless at the end of his junior college career and the Broncos were given NCAA permission to help him until he got to Boise.
“I’m very grateful for what Boise has done for me and Boise State has done for me, but it’s about football now,” Turner said. “The story is over. I’m out of that situation now. I’m here. I’m living. I’m enjoying myself. And now I just want people to understand that I can ball.”
Other highlights from a compelling interview with Turner:
– On getting a chance to play at tackle instead of nose: “Of course you like the outside because you’re freelancing. That’s where stars are made. The guys at inside, we’re just the workhorse.”
– On his body: “I dropped about 10 pounds. I’m the strongest and fastest I’ve ever been, so that’s great.”
– On his transition to Boise State: “Ups, downs, wanting to cry. All types of things. Football is a mental sport. It’s physical, but it’s all about this (points at head) and just wanting to be my best. Sometimes you don’t do your best one day and then you do your best the next day. You just try to keep that consistency. That’s what it’s all been for me, nine months, is trying to keep that consistency.”
– On his first season: “When I got in, it was more ‘Jesus take the wheel.’ I didn’t know what was going on. I was just feeling my way through the whole season.”
– On the difference knowing his teammates makes: “Now it’s more personal. I know who I’m playing next to and I’m not going to bust this play because I know that I have to do this for the guy next to me because I know him.”
– On the team: “I want to go past the Fiesta Bowl. We’re looking for a national championship. We’re looking for top of the top of the top. The Fiesta Bowl wasn’t good enough. We can do better than that. We could have been better than that. We don’t lose two games, we’re probably in the talk (for a playoff spot), you never know.”
– On his need for consistency: “When it gets to the fourth quarter, it’s who does right when you’re tired. ... That’s my biggest thing that I have to work on. Running to the ball is great, but when the bullets are flying, can you think?”
– On the offensive line: “The offensive line is getting better because they’ve got to go through four sets of defensive line that are all big and strong and they’re fast. And obviously when it comes to game time I feel that we helped each other out. The O-line is going to be able to handle whoever they get in front of because they handled us for a whole spring and summer.”
– On the NCAA ineligibility of Baylor walk-on Silas Nacita, who was homeless and accepted assistance from an acquaintance: “I hope they help the guy. I believe any child that’s having a problem – they’re 20-something, but we’re just kids at that point and we’re trying to get our life going ... sleeping on someone’s couch is better than sleeping outside. I guess he asked for help and he got help. My thing was I didn’t ask for help because I was scared.”
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