Marshall football: Linebacker Turene took long road to Huntington
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Kent Turene's path from high school to a college football field was a little windier than he'd hoped. Every player in his position would love that road to be a straight shot. Some aren't so lucky and must wait a little longer than others.
But nearly two years after graduating from Boyd Anderson High in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., the highly touted linebacker has a home on Marshall's football roster, and he's anxious to display the talent that turned so many heads in high school.
"It's been a blessing," Turene said of his debut on the Thundering Herd practice field. "With all the time I waited and all the hard work, to get to this point, I'm happy to be here."
Turene's original college destination was Georgia. He signed there in 2011 after a Boyd Anderson career where, as a senior, he was named an Under Armour All-American and earned four-star status from recruiting websites Scout, ESPN and 247Sports. He wasn't able to qualify academically at Georgia, though, and spent the fall 2011 semester at Atlanta Sports Academy.
He signed with Marshall in the spring 2012 semester, but had to sit out a year as an academic non-qualifier. His first taste of college football came when he jogged out with the rest of the Herd last Tuesday to start spring practices.
Turene said he's getting used to the mental aspects of the game again, regaining his footing there after such a long layoff. The physical parts of the game, though, have been easier to reclaim.
"It's just getting back into the flow of things," the 6-foot-3, 238-pound Turene said. "Right now, I feel fast. I feel that everything is still the same. It's still football. Nothing's changed."
Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said that Turene starts thinking as the coaches install more parts of new coordinator Chuck Heater's defense, and that might keep him from playing at full speed all the time, but he knows Turene will be able to crank that motor as he gets more comfortable.
"What I've seen of Turene, he's got the ability to play," Holliday said. "I noticed him here. He's got the athletic ability to get it done. I think you'll see him grow as a player as the spring goes on."
New linebackers coach Adam Fuller agreed that Turene's athletic ability should help him be a quick learner. He said it's obvious Turene loves the game, that he's driven to improve and that he's a talented player. Fuller said that's a great combination.
Fuller and Turene have limited experience with each other - Turene hasn't been on the field very long and Fuller hasn't been in Huntington very long - but in that short time, Fuller can see the potential Turne has. That potential was on display in high school, too, when Turene totaled 230 tackles, four interceptions and eight forced fumble over his junior and senior seasons.
"Sometimes, the first couple of days when you watch players play, you can tell they're football kids," Fuller said. "You can tell by body position, not only just that they're making the plays, but just how they play, the level of their pads and their knee bend. He has that body position. Like some other guys, we have a lot of hopes for him."
Turene has a lot of hopes for what he can do at the weakside linebacker spot that redshirt senior Devin Arrington controlled last season. Arrington has graduated and D.J. Hunter has moved from strongside linebacker back to safety, so Marshall's linebacker landscape will be different in 2013. No matter what it looks like, it must help the Herd's defense climb out from the Football Bowl Subdivision cellar.
Marshall's defense was 104th in the FBS against the run (203.08 yards allowed per game) on its way to being 101st overall (456.58 yards allowed per game). Turene already has his sights set on fortifying the Herd's run defense.
"Stopping the run, that's what's most important," he said. "That's what a linebacker's all about, to bring attitude and nastiness.
"That's No. 1 for me," he added. "That's what want to bring, the attitude to stop the run. If you can't stop the run, you can't stop the pass. We want to be great. That's our main goal."
Turene finally has his chance to help Marshall's defense work toward that goal. He had to bide his time, but he stayed patient and now he's ready.
"You've got to wait on your time," he said. "Your time isn't always at the time it's expected. All I did was wait for my time."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.