Before Casey Turner walks at his high school graduation, he will attend his first class at Rutgers.
A day after the fall semester begins at Rutgers, Turner may have the opportunity to carry the ball in the Sept. 2 season opener against Norfolk State.
An area of focus for the 2010 recruiting class was running back, and Edward H. White (Jacksonville, Fla.) produced one of the best in the state of Florida in Turner. He rushed for 2,232 yards and 31 touchdowns, and will challenge for playing time immediately at Rutgers.
He also believes heading to campus so early will serve as a tremendous benefit since it will give him two months to work out with the Scarlet Knights before the start of training camp.
“To tell you the truth, if I work toward my ability and work hard, I don’t think it will be real hard,’’ Turner said of the transition to college. “I’m going to take full advantage of the opportunity God gave me. If I work at it, it shouldn’t be hard. I know what I’m capable of. Hard work pays off.’’
Turner, who is 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, will compete with incumbent Joe Martinek, De’Antwan Williams, Mason Robinson, Kordell Young, walk-on Tyrone Putman and incoming freshman Jawan Jamison for paying time.
Williams, Robinson and Young all sat out contact drills in spring practice because of knee surgeries.
Turner said he already knows some of Rutgers’ play, and will become more entrenched in the playbook when he arrives on campus.
“I won’t be looking crazy when they actually ask me to do a certain thing,’’ he said. “I’ll know how to do it.’’
Turner’s arrival at Rutgers should help the running back depth, but his path to get there was often confusing.
He committed to Florida International in the fall, committed to Rutgers in December and then committed to North Carolina in January. He flipped back to the Scarlet Knights the night before signing day. For Turner, a big part of his final decision was Rutgers’ location.
“I like that spot,’’ Turner said. It’s close to New York, media capital of the world. It’s an upcoming program. They had a running back (Ray Rice) go in the (second) round, and he’s in the NFL, doing good. They’ve had a lot of guys go in the draft. It’s the place to be right now.’’
Since signing day Turner’s been working out and studying …and studying …and studying.
“I’ve been trying to get my GPA good so I can go in to Rutgers strong, with no academic trouble,’’ he said. “Most of my time is just school, school, school, school.’’
He did take some time in the spring to stop by his former team’s spring practice, and learned a lot about himself in doing so.
“I kind of miss it,’’ Turner said. “Sometimes I slacked off and I wish I hadn’t. I kind of miss it. Watching them do it makes me want to play one more time with them.’’
As for graduation, Edward H. White will hold its ceremony on June 8, and Turner plans to be present.
I have to fly back to graduate, then fly back (to Rutgers) the very next day,’’ he said. “That’s really the downfall about it. I don’t really get to celebrate with all my friends and stuff.’’