“I have coached Travis Prentice, the MAC’s all-time leading rusher. I was at Miami when Deland McCullough played and have defended many of the other great runningbacks the MAC has had to offer. I would have to say that Michael Turner is one of the top three backs I have seen come through the MAC.”

—Terry Hoeppner,
Miami (OH) head coach










Michael Turner - #32
Tailback
Senior
6-0 * 228 *
North Chicago


>
Q&A with Michael Turner

> Testimonials of Michael Turner




Scoop:
Mega national player++---++Nation’s No. 1 returning major-college rusher and all-purpose yardage performer++---++Mentioned in national publications as pre-season candidate for (1) All-America, (2) Heisman Trophy, (3) Doak Walker National Runningback Award, (4) Walter Camp Award, and (5) Maxwell Trophy in Street & Smith’s College Football and numerous other publications (2003)++---++Can join Northern Illinois All-Century FB Mark Kellar (1,719 yards in 1973) and TB LeShon Johnson (1,976 yards in 1993) as NCAA Division 1-A rushing champion++---++Best runningback in America west of Columbus, OH++---++Most volatile with eight runs last fall 30 yards or longer (82, 75, 73, 65, 42, 37, 37, and 31 yards), plus mind-blowing 93-yard KO return TD vs. Wake Forest (8-29-02)++---++Placard seen at Huskie Stadium last fall: “Michael Turner: The best Turner since Ike and Tina.” ++---++By the way, “Turner the Burner” wins best 1-A nickname, too.

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East-West Shrine Football Classic:
Made early commitment (5-2-03) to participate in 79th Annual East-West Shrine Football Classic at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, CA (1-10-04). “Michael Turner comes to us highly recommended,” said East-West executive director Jack Hart. “We’re delighted to have him in our all-star game. Our objective is to have the best players in the country in our game and, obviously, he is one of the better ones, no doubt.” Becomes (1) first Northern Illinois participant picked for East-West Shrine Classic and initial post-season bowl pick since WR Darrell Hill (Tyco Gridiron Classic in 2002), LB Cameron Saulsby (Tyco Gridiron Classic in 2001), and OT Ryan Diem (Senior Bowl in 2001) and (2) first Huskie tailback in post-season bowl since unanimous First-Team All-America pick LeShon Johnson (Senior Bowl in 1994).

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2003 Pre-season Notice:
Named to at least seven All-America squads++---++Selected First-Team All-America by Herschel Nissenson in Football Action, Second-Team All-America by The Gold Sheet, Street & Smith’s, and collegefootballnews.com, Third-Team All-America by Athlon Sports, Fourth-Team All-America by Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, plus “Rest of the Best” All-America by Playboy++---++Ranked as nation’s (1) No. 1 RB and No. 5 player overall on Blue Chip list by collegefootballnews.com College Football Fantasy website poll, (2) No. 6 RB by Lindy’s Big Ten, (3) No. 8 RB by Phil Steele, (4) No. 10 RB by NFL Draft Blitz, and (5) No. 17 RB by The Sporting News++---++Rated on ESPN.com Top 20 Heisman Trophy list. “…the best running back you never heard of is ‘The Burner’ Turner,” ESPN wrote. “He rushed for nearly 2,000 yards last year and had five games with over 200 yards. Watch how he starts when NIU (plays Maryland). A big game there and his Heisman Trophy campaign could have some legs”++---++Called “Heisman darkhorse” by Football Digest++---++Made CBS Sportsline Heisman list++---++Unanimous First-Team All-MAC selection++---++Named Mid-Am MVP by Lindy’s Big Ten++---++ “Can a MAC player win the Heisman? If he tops 2000 yards, NI upsets both Maryland and Alabama and wins the MAC, I think he does have a legitimate shot,” said Phil Steele.

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2003 Media Exposure:
Featured in nationally syndicated NCAA Productions 2003 college football television preview++---++Graced cover of Big Ten edition of Phil Steele’s College Football Preview++---++ Pictured in 2003 NCAA Football Record Book.

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The Storyline:
Went from relative anonymity as mid-level major back-up TB to All-America status and Doak Walker National Runingback Award semifinalist (2003) ++---++Stepped into starting Northern Illinois TB spot when two-time All-MAC pick and Academic All-America Thomas Hammock (1,083 rushing yards in 2000 and 1,096 in 2001) was sidelined with heart problem prior to South Florida game (9-7-02)++---++“They replaced a 1,000-yard rusher with a 2,000-yard rusher,” remarked one Mid-Am head coach later in the year.

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NCAA:
Recorded 13th-best single-season rushing performance and 22nd-best all-purpose yardage total in major-college history (2003)
++---++Edged out of national rushing title by Penn State TB Larry Johnson by a mere 0.96 ypg.—the closest battle for the NCAA Division 1-A ground-gaining crown since 1987 when Elbert “Ickey” Woods of Nevada-Las Vegas (150.73 ypg.) topped Craig Heyward of Pittsburgh(150.45 ypg.) by 0.23 ypg++---++Only 1-A rusher with (a) five 200-yard or better games and (b) two five-TD performances last year++---++Became nation’s first 1,000-yard rusher (by seventh game in 2003)++---++Ranked No. 2 in Division 1-A rushing (1,915 yards), No. 2 in 1-A all-purpose yardage (a Northern Illinois-record 2,284), No. 2 in 1-A rushing attempts (338), No. 7 in 1-A touchdowns (20), and No. 8 in 1-A scoring (120 points)++---++Tied for No. 6 in 1-A longest rushing gain (82 yards vs.Western Illinois), No. 23 (75 yards vs. Miami), and No. 25 (73 yards vs. Miami), plus No. 20 in longest 1-A kickoff return (93 yards vs. Wake Forest)++---++Rated No. 4 (tie) in NCAA single-game scoring (30 points vs. Miami and Eastern Michigan), No. 6 in single-game rushing attempts (41 vs. Toledo), and No. 7 in single-game rushing yards (282 vs. Western Illinois)++---++Heads into senior year as No. 2 active career rusher behind Tulane RB Mewelde Moore (3,449 yards) and No. 3 active career all-purpose player behind Moore (5,182 yards) and Duke TB Chris Douglas (4,305)++---++Holds one NCAA 1-A record—most single-game carries by a freshman (52 vs. Central Michigan in 2000).

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MAC:
Set league single-season rushing record (1,915 yards)
++---++Ranks No. 18 in career league ground-gaining (3,293 yards)++---++Needs 1,707 yards to become only the second rusher in loop history to reach the 5,000-yard plateau with Miami RB Travis Prentice (5,596 yards in 1996-99)++---++Finished No. 1 in Mid-Am rushing (159.6 ypg.), No. 1 in MAC all-purpose yardage (190.3 ypg.), No. 2 in loop scoring (10.0 ppg.), and No. 2 in TDs (20)++---++Topped league in MAC Player of the Week honors (four in 2003).

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Northern Illinois Record Book:
Opens senior year No. 3 in school career all-purpose yards (4,102) and No. 5 on career rushing list++---++Holds at least 12 major school records—(1) single-game rushing attempts (52 vs. Central Michigan in 2000), (2) single-season rushing attempts (338 in 2002), (3) single-season rushing TDs (tie) (19 in 2002), (4) single-season scoring (tie) (120 points), (5) single-season TDs (tie) (20 in 2002), (6) single-season all-purpose yardage (2,284 in 2002), (7) single-season 100-yard rushing games (tie) (nine in 2002), (8) single-season consecutive 100-yard rushing games (tie) (six in 2002), (9) career 200-yard games (seven in 2000-02), (10) single-game frosh rushing (281 vs. Central Michigan in 2000), (11) single-game junior rushing (282 vs. Western Illinois in 2002), and (12) junior rushing yards (1,915 in 2002). Vion++---++Named Mid-Am MVP

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Joe Novak:
“The most exciting thing about Michael Turner is that he is still learning the game. Basically, we’re talking about things that come with repetition. You look at all the great tailbacks and they are models of consistency. Michael certainly is talented. He’s big. He’s fast, deceptively fast. He’s a load to tackle. And now he’s a target. You don’t think that Maryland, Iowa State, Alabama, and the rest of the MAC won’t be out to stop him? How will he react?”

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Chart:
The Whole Package
++---++Size and speed intrigues NFL scouts++---++Recorded a 400-pound bench press, 385-pound squat lift, 295-pound power clean, 22 reps with 225 pounds, 13 chin-ups, 7.4 percent body fat, and :04.41 speed in the 40 in off-season conditioning program (2003).

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Career:
Owns three letters, 14 starts, 31 TDs, 186 points, and 1,380 snaps in 33 appearances (2000-02)
++---++Needs 453 yards to break Northern Illinois career rushing record held by Hall of Fame FB Mark Kellar (3,745 yards in 1971-73)++---++Holds “school record” with six career MAC Player of the Week citations.

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The Nickname:
Originated by Bob Regan, a sports writer for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle, a Northern Illinois grad, and former NIU Assistant Sports Information Director (1998-99). “The Burner” monicker was first used in a local preview story (8-26-02). “I guess I’m old-school and I love sports nicknames. It’s a lost art nowadays,” Regan said. “Anyway I started writing that NIU football story and when I got to Michael Turner, I started thinking about the way he ran with the football. When he breaks into the open, he kind of turns on the afterburners. I’m thinking ‘Burner Turner‘ or ‘The Burner’ or “Turner the Burner.’ I wrote it. It seemed right. It rhymed.”


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2003:
Heads into final year as No. 1 TB
++---++Worked in spring, but sat out final scrimmage (4-17-03)++---++Voted team quint-captain by peers (4-21-03).

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2002:
Named one of eight national semifinalists for prestigious Doak Walker National Runningback Award with Chris Brown (Colorado), Avon Cobourne (West Virginia), Quentin Griffin (Oklahoma), Larry Johnson (Penn State), Willis McGahee (Miami, FL), Artose Pinner (Kentucky), and Cecil Sapp (Colorado State) as mid-year supplemental candidate (11-20-02)
++---++Made five post-season All-America units (Second-Team by Football Digest, Third-Team by The Sporting News, Joel Buchsbaum Pro Football Weekly, and collegefootballnews.com, plus Honorable Mention by CNN-Sports Illustrated)++---++Finished runner-up to Marshall QB Byron Leftwich for (1) MAC Vern Smith Award and (2) Mid-Am Offensive Player of the year by league media++---++Named MAC Player of the Year by collegefootballnews.com++---++Made First-Team All-Mid-Am by league coaches and collegefootballnews.com++---++Won MAC West Offensive Player of the Week four times for (1) career-high 282 yards (fourth-best in school history) and three TDs (2, 82, 65 yards) vs. Western Illinois (9-21-02), (2) 222-yards and league-record five TDs (9, 73, 31, 15, and 5 yards) and 201 yards and four TDs in game’s final 20:16 vs. East leader Miami (OH) (10-12-02), (3) game-high 192 yards on 40 carries vs. No. 16 Bowling Green State (11-9-02), and (4) 225 yards and five TDs (1, 42, 10, 3, and 10 yards) vs. Eastern Michigan (11-16-02)++---++Produced school’s second-best ground-gaining campaign behind 1993 NCAA rushing kingpin LeShon Johnson (1,976 yards in 1993). Began year at No. 2 TB behind Thomas Hammock++---++Stepped into starting line-up vs. South Florida after Hammock was sidelined with medical problems++---++Gained 66 yards on 29 carries at USF and then started (1) string of six consecutive 100-yard games vs. Wisconsin and (2) nine of next 10 outings over 100++---++Led team in rushing, scoring, and all-purpose yards++---++Earned third letter with 702 total snaps (657 on offense and 45 on special teams) and 11 starts in 12 games++---++Pre-season Joe Novak: “He’s (Turner) a big play threat. He can go 60-70 yards any time.”

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2001:
Won second letter with 303 total snaps (271 on offense and 32 on special teams) in 10 games
++---++Finished No. 2 in team rushing (395 yards on 92 attempts), No. 2 in KO returns (nine for 319 yards—and a-this-is-no-typo 35.4 ypr. average), No. 3 in total offense, No. 4 in all-purpose yardage (790), No. 5 in scoring (24 points), and No. 6 in receiving (10 for 76 yards)++---++Named MAC West Special Teams Player of the Week by returning KO 85 yards for TD and adding 47 rushing yards vs. Kent State (10-13-01). Ran for season-high 73 yards on 14 attempts vs. No. 31 Illinois (9-8-01)++---++Topped team in rushing with 66 yards and one TD on 16 carries vs. Eastern Michigan (11-3-01)++---++Gained 60 yards in 11 rushes vs. no. 38 Marshall (10-6-01)++---++Netted 297 of 395 yards after first contact.

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2000:
Earned first letter with 375 snaps (374 on offense and one on “hands” unit) and won starts in 11 games
++---++Finished No. 44 in NCAA 1-A rushing (89.4 ypg.) and No. 1 among nation’s frosh++---++Recorded eighth-best overall 1-A rushing game in country with (then) career-high 281 yards vs. Central Michigan (11-18-00) and 23rd-best in major-college ranks with 230 yards vs. Eastern Michigan (11-11-00)++---++Gained 511 of 983 ground yards in final two games subbing for the injured Hammock (ankle)++---++Named MAC Offensive Player of the Week with single-game NIU frosh-record 281 yards on unprecedented 52 attempts vs. CMU++---++Produced (1) league’s top single-game rushing performance of the year, (2) best frosh game in MAC history, and (3) No. 1 freshman outing in Northern Illinois annals++---++Wound up fourth in Mid-Am Frosh of the Year balloting (nine votes)++---++Rated No. 7 in MAC rushing++---++Added 140 yards vs. MAC East leader Akron (10-14-00)++---++Ran 15 times for 89 yards in second game vs. Illinois State (9-9-00)++---++Turned in (1) 16th-best overall rushing season in school history, (2) No. 2 frosh year in Northern Illinois records behind Hall of Fame TB Allen Ross (1,043 yards in 1977), and (3) best non-1,000-yard NIU ground campaign++---++ Ran for most NIU frosh TDs (seven) since Ross (eight)++---++Gained 570 yards after first contact. Wound up No. 2 in team rushing, No. 3 in total offense, and No. 3 in all-purpose yardage (1,028), No. 4 in scoring (42 points), and No. 7 in receiving (four for 45 yards)++---++Began career at No. 5 TB.

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Prep:
Named team Offensive Player of the Year and team MVP, unanimous First-Team All-North Suburban Conference, First-Team Waukegan News-Sun All-County, Chicago Sun-Times Top 100 Area Seniors, and Special Mention Champaign News-Gazette All-State for coach Michael Durrah as a senior
++---++Led team to 6-4 mark and first playoff bid in 10 years (1999)++---++Ran for 1,392 yards on 133 attempts—a 10.5 ypc. average—and 14 TDs++---++Gained career-high 295 yards on 19 carries, plus two TDs (67 and school-record 90 yards) vs. Zion-Benton (1999)++---++Produced 104 yards and one TD on eight rushes in playoff game vs. Bolingbrook (1999)++---++Voted team MVP, First-Team All-NSC, and First-Team All-County with 868 yards and nine TDs on 75 carries as a junior (1998)++---++Ran for 2,732 career yards and 26 TDs on 263 attempts (1997-99)++---++ Lettered in football (3) and track++---++Won loop, county, and Sectional 100-meter dash as a senior++---++Took Sectional 100 as a junior.

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Personal:
Brother Damon Turner lettered at DL at Illinois State (1992-94).
Birthdate (Age): 2-13-82 (21).
Major: Liberal Arts & Sciences.

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