Linebacker or safety? The answer might determine where Asa Turner lands

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

SAN ANTONIO — Visiting Notre Dame just once was not what prevented Asa Turner from inking with the Irish during college football's early signing period.

The University of Washington’s prime location in Seattle, with a football stadium that overlooks Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains, would not be what convinces Turner to sign with the Huskies.

The Carlsbad (Calif.) High product will sign with the school that offers him the most suitable position. The Huskies desire the 2019 recruit to play where he’s most familiar: safety. The Irish view Turner as a rover and buck linebacker.

Which spot does Turner prefer? He remains uncertain. After Turner delayed his signing, both coaching staffs reached out to him. Any sales pitches were swatted away.

“I was trying to explain that I have heard everything I needed to hear,” Turner said. “So now it is just up to me. Both coaching staffs have told me everything.”

ND signed all 21 of its committed recruits on Dec. 19 and are targeting Isaiah Foskey and Turner. Both California products, along with four Irish signees, Jay Bramblett, Kyle Hamilton, NaNa Osafo-Mensah and Andrew Kristofic, are in San Antonio all week for the All-American Bowl. NBC will broadcast the contest at 1 p.m. EDT Saturday.

Foskey appears to heavily lean toward the Irish, while Turner, now uncommitted, remains split. Turner, a 6-foot-4, 201-pounder, visited ND in June. But with spots filling up, he felt forced to commit to Washington in July.

The unwavering pursuit of the Irish staff, though, made Turner’s uncertainty linger.

“A few days before was when it really hit me,” Turner said. “Like a month before signing day, I was unsure about things, like 50-50 between both schools. So then I tried to figure things out on my own. That did not really work out, as you can tell.

“I didn’t even want to show up to national signing day, because I didn’t know what I was going to do. But there was media there, so I had to. But after that, I kind of just went to go. I still didn’t know what I was going to do. Then, I was going to actually force myself to make a decision before the last day…I got advice from some people, and they said to not sign if you aren’t 100 percent. So I didn’t want to do that.”

Turner hopes to commit “at least one week” before the Feb. 6 National Signing Day. The ND path for Turner would be similar to that of 2019 signees Jack Kiser and Marist Liufau. The two expect to begin at rover before transitioning to buck linebacker, like Turner would.

Considering the position situation, ND granted Turner flexibility.

“They told me that I could come in, and if I am not happy at rover, like if I want to play safety — don’t pick Washington if I want to play safety,” Turner said. “They said that I can come there and play safety if I really, really want to.”

Asa Turner (@asaturner20) says he hopes to decide between #NotreDame and #Washington “at least one week” before National Signing Day. Washington is recruiting him as a safety, while #GoIrish wants him at Rover/Buck LB.

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) January 1, 2019

Maybe it was the lack of drama elsewhere for both recruiting classes. Regardless, Turner absorbed the spotlight. He felt obligated to attend Carlsbad’s signing day announcement despite having not decided. Turner delayed the decision before later electing not to sign during the Dec. 19-21 period.

And it sparked a pointed comment from Washington head coach Chris Petersen.

“…The vultures and the lowdown tactics that (are) going on behind closed doors — now I think about it a little bit more than I did,” Petersen told the Seattle Times during the early signing day. I don’t know. We just operate such a different way, so when it happens to the guys that have been committed to us — why would you be calling those kids?

“They’ve been committed to us forever. But they do. And they’re sending texts and doing all this stuff just to see if there’s any slight change, and if there is — look out.”

ND did not merely contact Turner in the days before Dec. 19. The Irish staff remained in touch with Turner and visited him on multiple occasions, including amid their bye week in October.

Petersen was not familiar of his recruitment history with ND, Turner said. Once Turner tweeted, “So that’s how it’s (going to) be…? (Alright),” days after early signing day, it only added fuel to the fire.

Caught off guard, the soft spoken Turner garnered curious comments from both fan bases, which wondered if something angered him.

“That was not about anything,” Turner said. “That was about high school stuff. That’s why I deleted it.”

The West, Turner’s team that also has Osafo-Mensah and Foskey, will play Turner at linebacker. Perhaps a solid week will be enough for Turner to see his potential at the position. The Irish signees on the East squad — Hamilton, Bramblett and Kristofic — are also delivering sales pitches to Turner.

“I’m saying that we were in the College Football Playoff,” Hamilton said. “Obviously, it did not go the way we wanted to. But we are going to get back there next year. We are one of the best schools in the country. If faith is a big part of your life, that’s the perfect place to be. A lot of colleges are really great regionally, but Notre Dame is all over the world. We have one of the best alumni networks in the world. There’s nothing to not like.”

Safety signee Kyle Hamilton (@kham316) has a message for #NotreDame fans and Irish targets Asa Turner and Isaiah Foskey.

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) January 1, 2019

Nothing to not like, a statement with which Turner agrees. That is not something he has not already pondered about, however.

“That is why this is so hard,” Turner said. “Everything is pretty much even for me. Both schools have great education, I am close with both coaching staffs, the weather at both places aren’t ideal for me, but it doesn’t really matter. They are all even. But the one difference is the position, so that’s where I’ve been leaning on to make my decision.”

247Sports rates Turner four stars and as the No. 10 athlete and No. 187 overall player. Rivals slates Turner as a four-star and No. 23 athlete. 247Sports and Rivals rank ND’s 2019 recruiting class at No. 13 and No. 11 overall, respectively.

“I’m hoping that it will be at least 85 or 90 (percent),” said Turner on when he will decide. “Some days, I wake up and I’m 70-30. Some days, I wake up 40-60 the other way. I definitely want it to be at a set percentage for a certain amount of days so that I’m not flipping back and forth again once signing day comes.”

Other videos from Monday's All-American Bowl practice

#NotreDame punter signee Jay Bramblett is set to be a four-year starter for #GoIrish. Has worked with Rams punter Johnny Hekker.

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) January 1, 2019

No. 71, #NotreDame signee Andrew Kristofic, is lining up at RT. The #GoIrish staff love his athleticism and potential. He will enroll early.

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) January 1, 2019

Kyle Hamilton won’t enroll early and is also a basketball star for Marist HS. Love his length at 6-3, 190. Wicked hops and solid instincts.

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) January 1, 2019

Asa Turner with a batted pass on a throw from Ryan Hilinski

— Brian Perroni (@Perroni247) January 1, 2019

Carlsbad (Calif.) High linebacker Asa Turner, a 2019 recruit, recommitted to Washington on Jan. 31, 2019.