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December 17, 2003
NORTHERN ILLINOIS ALL-AMERICA TB MICHAEL 'THE BURNER' TURNER ADDS SENIOR BOWL TO POSTSEASON
DeKALB, IL --- Your "Turner the Burner" Daily Update: Two-year Northern Illinois University All-America tailback Michael "The Burner" Turner will do his postseason thing in a nationally televised January doubleheader of sorts.
Turner (North Chicago) has accepted an invitation to play in the 2004 Senior Bowl on January 24, 2004, Vic Knight, the public relations director of the Mobile, AL, all-star game announced.
For the 5-foot-10, 232-pound Huskie senior, the Senior Bowl represents the second of two all-star contests in which he will appear in January. Last May, "The Burner" committed to play in the East-West Shrine Classic in San Franciso on January 10, 2004. Both the East-West Shrine Classic and the Senior Bowl will be telecast live on ESPN next month.
"Michael has a great opportunity to showcase his ability in two national all-star games to people across the country on TV and to a virtual who's who of National Football League executives and scouts," said Northern Illinois head football coach Joe Novak. "The Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game are two of the oldest and most established such all-star events. It's an honor for him and our football program to be invited to both.
"With the two all-star games two weeks apart, Michael can go all-out in practice and game day. Not only do the NFL people want to see you in a game environment, they really want to see how you practice, your work ethic, your work habits," Novak added. "At this level, that's very, very important. Everyone at this point has exceptional talent, that's a given."
Thanks to the two all-star game appearances next month, Turner becomes the first Huskie grid standout to manage such a "double" since the Northern Illinois Little All-America battery of quarterback George Bork and end Hugh Rohrschneider who both performed at the North-South Shrine Game and the Challenge Bowl in 1963.
"It's certainly a great opportunity for me to display my talents," Turner said. "With Steve Azar, Randee Drew, Akil Grant, and myself in several all-star games, this shows that Northern Illinois and the Mid-American Conference have talent. We want to show people what we can do. We do have talent. For me, personally, I'm fortunate because I have two chances to show something. I know the week of practice is intense. The scouts watch everything you do."
The Senior Bowl, of course, is played at 40,000-seat Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile---also the site of the GMAC Bowl Thursday (December 18) matching Miami (OH) and Louisville. Turner will play on the North squad and report to camp on Sunday (January 18). Kickoff for the Senior Bowl is 4 p.m. (CST) on ESPN.
In San Francisco, the 79th Annual East-West Shrine Classic will be played at Pacific Bell Park---the home of baseball Giants in the National League. Turner was named to the East roster and will perform for head coach Walt Harris.
Turner is also the first Huskie to play in the East-West Shrine Classic and the third to play in the Senior Bowl---following in the footsteps of All-America tailback LeShon Johnson (1994) and offensive tackle Ryan Diem (2001).
To date this season, Turner has made five national All-America squads---including Second-Team All-America honors from the Associated Press, The Sporting News, and CNN-Sports Illustrated.com, plus Honorable Mention All-America by Rivals.com and Collegefootballnews.com. A two-time Doak Walker National Runningback Award semi-finalist, "The Burner" repeated as a First-Team All-Mid-American Conference pick in 2002 and 2003.
As a junior, Turner led the MAC in rushing with a league-record 1,915 yards and finished second nationally in that statistic. This year, "The Burner" ranked No. 1 in Mid-Am ground-gaining with 1,648 yards (137.3 yards-per-game average) and stands No. 3 nationally behind Patrick Cobbs of North Texas (152.7 ypg.) and Darren Sproles of Kansas State (139.1 ypg.). Career-wise, Turner's 4,941 yards rushing wound up No. 1 in school history, No. 2 in the MAC Record Book, and No. 13 all-time in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1-A ranks.
(For further information, please contact Mike Korcek) -NIU-