SAN ANTONIO, Texas - As valuable as the actual U.S. Army All-America Bowl is for an evaluation standpoint, nothing is more vital than the five days of practice that took place Monday through Friday. And while there were numerous studs on the East roster, Rivals.com has named wide receiver Patrick Turner its camp most valuable player for the practice portion of the week.
Rivals.com will name both an offensive and defensive most valuable player for both teams for their total body of work after the game on Saturday, but Turner was the star of the show throughout the week of practices in San Antonio.
Coming into the week of the U.S. Army All-American game Turner of Nashville (Tenn.) Goodpasture was ranked as the nation's No. 2 wide receiver and the nation's No. 10 overall player. His lofty ranking is a hard one to improve, but there is not doubt that he has done that this week. He has stated a strong case to move to the nation's overall No. 1 player, but it is unlikely he will rise above the No. 2 spot.
Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt athlete Derrick Williams has been considered the nation's No. 1 player by Rivals.com from day one. Williams was scheduled to play in this game, but due to his already enrolling at Penn State University and starting classes on Monday Williams is unable to play. Therefore Williams was the one guy that Rivals.com has been unable to compare Turner to in person this week, making it extremely difficult to put him at the No. 1 spot.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Turner runs the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds, the shuttle in 4.29 seconds, has a 265-pound bench press and a 355-pound squat. As a junior he caught 56 passes for 955 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior. Ask virtually anyone on the East squad who the most impressive prospect for the East squad has been this week and odds are they're going to tell you it has been Mr. Turner.
"Patrick is unbelievable," East quarterback Greg Paulus said. "He is special. I've never seen anyone like him. If he keeps his head on straight he is going to do some great things. He just makes those one-handed catches look so easy. He can go up and get the ball like no one I have ever seen before. Pat is a great guy too and just really down to earth, he's definitely the total package."
Turner has been matched up with some of the top defensive backs in the nation including the likes of Justin King, Demetrice Morley, Kenneth Phillips and Bryan Evans. Only Phillips has been able to match Turner and do much of anything with his large frame and physical style of play.
"I have been able to hold my own with all of these guys except Pat," Evans, a cornerback, said. "He has made some great catches under pressure. There have been times when there would two of us basically hanging off of him and he still made the catch. He is going to kill the confidence of a lot of defensive backs in college."
Many who watch Turner compare him to Mike Williams or David Boston, but one high school coach summed it up best this week while watching Turner at a practice.
"Everyone is trying to compare him to someone," he said.
"They are saying that this kid is the next Mike Williams or the next Larry Fitzgerald or whoever. I try not compare kids like him to anybody, because he is a good enough player that I think that five years from now there will be people comparing some other top receiver prospect to Patrick Turner.
"I really think that he is that good. If he keeps working hard and stays around the right people he is going to be in a class all by himself."