TAMPA, Fla. —
Fairview senior football player Devon Turner had already defeated the odds.
Just 90 players were selected of the approximately 4,200 at last summer’s combine to get into the annual Blue-Grey National All-Star Classic in Tampa, Fla.
That was an accomplishment in itself.
Turner, as he’s been known to do lately, went above and beyond during Saturday’s game which took place at Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Turner rushed for nearly 40 yards on five carries, making three first downs for the South squad. He also caught a swing pass for a 12-yard gain and accounted for two special teams tackles.
The South won, 30-18.
Turner said the overall experience was one he’ll never forget. He arrived in Tampa on Tuesday and practiced with his team for a few days at the Bucs’ training facility before Saturday’s game.
“I thought it was amazing,” said the 5-foot-9, 175-pound running back. “I met a lot of people from across the country. Everyone that was there truly loved the game of football.”
When he finally set foot inside the NFL stadium for kickoff, the humble Turner couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride.
“It was unreal, I can’t even explain it,” Turner said. “I was thinking about all the hard work and all the time invested last summer and basically my whole life. I just wanted to soak it all in. I felt blessed and thankful.”
Larry Ryans, a former NFL wide receiver, was the South’s head coach. Turner worked mostly with running backs coach Arlen Harris — Harris played four seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions. He played his college ball at Hofstra.
“(Harris) taught me a lot ... how to be patient, how not to rush the holes,” Turner said. “A lot of times I like to go full speed. But it’s all about changing pace and changing speeds.”
While his mother and father were in attendance on Saturday, plenty of Westwood folks were showering Turner with support. Some were scrambling to watch the game live on Fox Sports Florida.
Scott Miller, Turner’s middle school coach at Fairview, went to Buffalo Wild Wings in Ironton and had the waiters put the game on TV there.
“That kind of touched me,” Turner said. “He went out of his way to support me like that.
“It was great to see everyone getting a hold of me on Facebook and Twitter to wish me good luck,” he added.
Turner helped lead Fairview to a second straight unbeaten regular season in 2012 en route to the program’s first state championship game appearance. The Eagles finished at 14-1 after falling to Mayfield in the Class A final. Turner finished off his high school career as an outstanding two-way player with a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons to his name.
His future is still unclear, but Turner said several colleges have been in contact with him about furthering his football career.
“It’s just something I’ll pray about,” he said. “I guess I’ll find out soon.”
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.