But it also required an adjustment by the program. Turner invested much of his college years in his team, from the day-to-day grind to speaking engagements. Yet he’s still the guy who values fairness - which is why he appreciated the room he was given this season when the Terps were clearly his outfit.
“I felt like I earned that. As selfish as that sounds, I think I put my time in here and I’ve done a lot for this program on and off the field,” Turner said. “It look a long time for the relationship between me and the coaches for them to give me my space, because I need my space. I can’t be 24-7 football. That’s what they want. That’s what every coach wants. They want that Tim Tebow quarterback, and I’m not going be Tim Tebow. That’s a divide that I think exists in general in football.”
It was a reflective moment, not a projective one. The real chance that Turner hobbled off the field for the final time last month has only started to sink in. His status - that he was and no longer is the Terps’ quarterback - is a distinction he chuckles about when he’s asked.
“I’m cool with it and I’ll move on, but I will miss it,” he said. “I already do miss it. I do miss playing. I’d love to play in a bowl game. I’ll move on. It’s not the end of the world. Everyone has to do it at some point. It’s not like you can play your whole life.”
There are other things to get to. He and a friend will begin a drive back to California next week, crossing the continent and passing through places such as Indianapolis and Wichita, Kan., and Amarillo, Texas. In the future, law school beckons. So does settling down, preferably someplace warmer than the D.C. area.
But the game still calls, even for a well-rounded guy with a lot on his mind. He’ll try to make the pros, and why not? The money is too good, the window of opportunity too small. It has to happen now, and there’s no chance he’ll pass it up.
“I don’t want to be done playing football here,” he said. “I just don’t think I’m ready to be done playing football. I feel like I’m better than I was last year and I think I can still get better, so I don’t see why I should stop playing. I think if I do get a chance, I know I can make a team. That’s all I have right now - my faith in that. I’m just going to roll with it.”
Deep down, he is a quarterback, current verb tense be damned. After the past three years, he’s definitely certain of it.