Nick Saban isn’t always the fiery, hard-nosed, intense head coach college football fans and Alabama Crimson Tide players have seen over the years. In fact, star edge rusher Dallas Turner noticed Saban has “got a little wiggle” to him.
Speaking during Southeastern Conference (SEC) media days, the key returner to the Tide defense shared with both Peter Burns and Bryce Young that he’s seen a rare side of the multiple national champion winning head coach: His dance moves.
“A good story is the first time I saw Coach Saban dance,” Turner recalled (h/t AL.com on Wednesday, July 19). “He’s pretty good. He’s got a little wiggle, a little old man two-step.”
It’s not known what song Saban was dancing to that got Turner to notice the “old man two-step” or wiggle. But perhaps it may have been similar to Saban’s moves during the renowned “Cupid Shuffle.”
Turner Reflects Back on Recruitment & Journey
Turner will be using his own feet to slip past blockers this fall for the Tide. He’s entering this season with a bevy of preseason praise — from being an early contender for SEC Defensive Player of the Year to being listed as a potential first round draft selection. Former ESPN NFL Draft expert Todd McShay listed Turner as a top five draft pick for 2024 — plugging him at No. 4 overall to the Tennessee Titans.
Turner, though, was reflective of what got him to this stage. It began with reflecting back on his recruiting process with Alabama and his early interactions with Saban.
“One thing I would say about Coach Saban during my recruitment process in high school is that he was very honest with me,” Turner said. “He had a vision for me…and a path he wanted me to take.”
Turner back then was highly touted. The star out of Florida prep powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas was the No. 1 edge rusher for the Class of 2021 by 247Sports. Turner was even then projected to emerge as a first round selection and drew early comparisons to Buffalo Bills starter Shaq Lawson.
Turner additionally shared that while growing up in the Sunshine State, he admitted he cheered for the Florida Gators. But that all changed when Saban and ‘Bama entered the picture during his official visit to Tuscaloosa.
“I saw what made the university great,” Turner said. “I saw what made it the University of Alabama. I saw the process it takes to get to where it is.”
The rest is now history following back-to-back solid campaigns with the Tide that became enough for him to emerge as a cornerstone for the 2023 defense.
Turner Also Addresses Taking Over for No. 3 Overall Pick
Turner and the Tide still have this scenario they’re walking into — life without Will Anderson Jr., the No. 3 overall pick of the 2023 draft.
The 6-foot-4, 242-pound Turner acknowledged that the newest Houston Texans edge was a bar setter for him and the other Tide defenders. Yet, Turner is confident in the group replacing him soon.
“He has paved the way for a lot of guys in the linebacker room,” Turner said (h/t Christopher Walsh of Sports Illustrated). “There are also guys that can come and fill those shoes, replace him in some way, like Chris Braswell, Keanu Koht, Quandarrius Robinson, Jeremiah Alexander, guys like that.
Turner continued with: “A lot of guys like that looked up to Will, seeing what he did, seeing him grow, make mistakes. We just learned from that, keep going off of it.”
Along with Saban, Anderson was another instrumental in the development of Turner.
“I feel like Will taught me a lot. We taught each other a lot, I’ll say that. But just seeing him grow, him seeing me grow, it’s been very good. I took a lot of things for him. I feel like I wouldn’t be who I am today without him. I’ll say that,” Turner said.