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Turner looks to seize opportunity at QB

3/10/2014

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Jamal Turner said he watched Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winning fellow Texan, during the past two seasons, and the Nebraska receiver wondered if he had missed his chance.

Turner listened as his coaches talked of using him to throw passes on trick plays. Then he sat by, struggling with injuries, as opportunities went to teammates.

“This is my time,” the senior said Monday after the Huskers’ second practice of the spring.

Offensive coordinator Tim Beck informed Turner not long after the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl victory of the decision to try him as a quarterback, the position at which he starred in high school.

Though Turner struggled on Monday, he’s in it to win the position.

If he can’t outplay returning eight-game starter Tommy Armstrong Jr. and redshirt freshman Johnny Stanton, Turner said he would return to receiver.

“And if they need any depth at the quarterback position,” he said, “they always have me.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior caught 60 passes in the past three seasons, but he’s failed to meet the lofty expectations that accompanied his arrival in Lincoln as a heralded prospect in the spring of 2011. Rated as the No. 6 athlete nationally out of high school, he played QB for a short time in his first spring at Nebraska.

The move back to his old position has not been easy.

“You just have so much stuff going through your head,” Turner said. “I can read blitzes and I can read coverages. It’s when there’s so much on your plate.

“I need to get what we’re doing first."

Basic plays have given him trouble.

"I should be getting these things down," he said. "I should know these things.”

It's time to watch more film, Turner said. He’s studied plenty since January, learning concepts and the significant changes to terminology in the structure of Nebraska’s offense.

Armstrong welcomes the competition.

“It’s tough for him right now because of the simple fact that he’s playing (receiver) and he’s playing quarterback,” Armstrong said. “I give him props, because that’s hard.”

Turner is confident, he said, that he’ll make strides this spring.

“I have to remember I’m in charge of the offense,” he said, “and what I say, everyone’s going to do, so I have to make sure it’s right.”

The Huskers return to practice Wednesday.