Turner made exceptional use of both on Wednesday, May 31 during OTAs — slipping past the interior offensive line during team drills for two stops for a loss, while also using his hands to violently deliver a thunderous pop noise that could be heard loud and clear from Mountclef Ridge to the Cal Lutheran campus in Thousand Oaks.
But did that intensity come from watching a future new teammate of his in Aaron Donald while at Wake Forest and Richmond?
Turner Answers if Donald Was Part of Film Study
Speaking one-on-one with Heavy following the Rams’ Wednesday practice, the 89th overall pick from the 2023 NFL draft revealed that watching the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year became a part of both Richmond and Wake Forest’s film sessions with the defensive linemen.
“I watched him every year. I remember multiple years with different coaches having film studies on his work and just the way he approaches the game, his hand placement and the moves that he’s done,” Turner shared.
Turner, who comes in standing an inch taller than Donald at 6-foot-2 while weighing 288 pounds, scrutinized Donald’s hands and how he uses the appendages to his advantage when facing blockers.
“I’ve emulated or have tried to emulate the best that I could and incorporate into my own game,” Turner sad. “When you’re the best to ever do it, I’ve definitely spent a lot of time learning from him before even getting here.”
Did those study hours in watching “A.D” help? Turner went on to dominate in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) including back-to-back First Team honors in the truncated spring 2021 season and fall ’21 campaign. He went on to snatch 158 total tackles, 65 solo stops and added 15 career sacks for the Spiders. He also added three forced fumbles and recovered three fumbles.
Then, he established himself as an All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) performer in his redshirt senior season of last year with the Demon Deacons. He went on to post a 92.2 Pro Football Focus rating — the second-best mark for a collegiate defensive lineman among Power 5 schools. His proof in transitioning from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) realm to Power 5 football eventually boosted his draft stock.
Has Turner Already Won Over Donald?
Now, Turner gets to be in the same room with a man called the greatest of all time for defensive linemen. And one who still isn’t slowing down even as he’s now in his early 30s.
Has Turner already won over Donald? Or is he still trying to develop the relationship?
“It’s still something I’m trying to build,” Turner said regarding getting to know Donald.
Donald has been away from the Rams’ voluntary practices as he spends time with his family. In the process, the rookie Turner has been able to work in some reps with the veteran first-team Ram defenders from Michael Hoecht, to Marquise Copeland all the way to third-year inside linebacker Ernest Jones. But it doesn’t mean Turner hasn’t talked to Donald yet.
“The first week I was here, I got to interact with him and see how he works and how he approaches everything,” Turner said.
As the Rams trek toward the 2023 season, Turner is confident in this area involving Donald.
“I know that relationship will build as I gain his trust,” he said.