“Most explosive player in the MAC.”

—Lindy’s Big Ten

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September 23, 2002


DeKALB, IL --- Northern Illinois University junior tailback Michael “The Burner” Turner---known for his big-play capabilities----made a highlight reel full of them last Saturday night, put himself in the national statistical spotlight, and then enjoyed the fruits of his labor with Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week honors.

League commissioner Rick Chryst made the MAC Player of the Week announcements Monday (Sept. 23).

What an evening Turner had. His career-best 282-yard and three-touchdown performance on 29 carries against Western Illinois represented the top single-game rushing total in the major-college ranks this season, plus marked the fourth-best outing ever in the Huskie Record Book, and tied the No. 8 ground-gaining effort on the all-time MAC list.

“Michael is a big, strong, fast kid,” said Huskie head coach Joe Novak. “He’s done a great job stepping up for Thomas (Hammock). If he (Turner) gets in the secondary, he is a load to tackle. Frankly, I don’t think people realize how fast he is, once he gets going. He’s a 0:10.6 in the 100 meters and weighs almost 230.”

Two of his three TDs against WIU fit into the mega play range. The 82 and 65-yard rushing gains were the fifth and 16th longest runs in Northern Illinois football history. Coupled with the 160-yard game vs. Wisconsin a week earlier, Turner (North Chicago) has gained 442 yards in his last two appearances and moved into the No. 6 spot in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1-A rushing (134.8 yards-per-game average) this week.

In the Western Illinois contest, Turner produced six runs 10 yards or longer (18, 18, 82, 15, 65, and 14). Which made Leatherneck head man Don Patterson remark: “He (Turner) makes you hold your breath every time he carries the ball.” Earlier this season, Turner returned a kickoff 93 yards for a TD against Wake Forest.

Turner, of course, has started in place of Hammock who is sidelined indefinitely by his heart related condition and upcoming medical evaluations. The MAC Player of the Week award is Turner’s third of his career. As a frosh, No. 32 spelled Hammock the final two games of the season and gained 511 ground yards in that span---including a 281-yard effort vs. Central Michigan which gained him MAC West Offensive Player of the Week plaudits in 2000. Last year, Turner returned a kickoff for an 85-yard TD vs. Kent State and earned MAC West Special Teams Player of the Week notoriety.

In addition to ranking No. 6 nationally in rushing this week, Turner stands No. 3 in 1-A all-purpose yardage (183.5 ypg.), No. 8 in kickoff returns (32.2 ypr.), and No. 31 in scoring (9.0 ppg.). In five career Huskie starts, Turner has rushed for 1,019 yards (and 1,917 yards overall in 25 career Northern Illinois appearances). His 160-yard effort vs. Wisconsin also ranks as the 38th best single-game rushing performance in the NCAA this season.

To date this season, Northern Illinois has earned four MAC Player of the Week citations---Hammock and placekicker Steve Azar both vs. Wake Forest and linebacker Larry Williams vs. Wisconsin.

Turner shared the MAC West Offensive Player of the Week award with Bowling Green State runningback Joe Alls. BeeGee swept the two other weekly West trophies as nose guard Alex Glantzis and punter Pat Fleming took the defensive and special teams honors, respectively. In the Mid-Am East, Marshall runningback Brandon Carey and Miami (OH) runningback Luke Clemens won the offensive award, Central Florida defensive back Asante Samuel took the defensive, and Marshall punter-placekicker Curtis Head gained the special teams placard.


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