Sunday, June 15, 2008

Turk makes his choice | by Pat

It only took four recruiting classes, but Charlie Weis finally received a public commitment from a punter, the last position yet to do so. Up to this point, thanks to Geoff Price and baseball player/preferred walk-on Eric Maust, ND hasn't had to recruit a scholarship punter. (Maust does count towards a football scholarship now) With Price out of eligibility and Maust showing plenty of promise on the baseball diamond, landing a punter became a priority in this class.

That's where Ben Turk comes in. Even though he hasn't visited campus yet, the Florida native only needed a short time from receiving his official offer before committing to Charlie and the Fighting Irish.

"It was kind of an easy choice," said Turk, who was offered a scholarship by ND a few weeks ago. "It doesn't really get much better than (Notre Dame)."
Turk is the eighth member of the recruiting class of 2009, which puts ND on a faster pace commitment-wise than any other Weis era year save 2007. Speaking of previous recruiting years, Turk hails from St. Thomas Aquinas, the same high school as Sam Young and Dan Wenger. The Raider program is a traditionally strong one and any pipeline that ND can establish with the Fort Lauderdale school is a good one.

Despite the 24/7 coverage of the major recruiting sites, special teams players like punters and kickers are still treated like, well, punters and kickers. So far the 6'0" 190 pound Turk is unranked on Rivals, Scout, and ESPN. His lone scholarship offer was from Cincinnati though Alabama was reportedly close to offering. The one site that does offer some sort of ranking is pro kicking coach Chris Sailer's website. On his site, Sailer ranks Turk as the #6 punter recruit in the nation, with four of the five ahead of him being junior college players.

There isn't much to go on from the usual recruiting info sources, but there are two areas that do point to Turk's potential; bloodlines and coaching. Turk's uncle is long-time NFL punter Matt Turk, currently with the Houston Texans. Another uncle was a 14 year long-snapper in the pros. It probably won't be too hard for Turk to pick up some pointers.

Turk also comes from one of the best high schools in the nation when it comes to special teams players. Over the past nine years, 10 different St. Thomas kickers and punters have received D-1 scholarship offers. Teams like Duke, Michigan State, and Auburn currently feature St. Thomas kickers. Punter-wise, Stanford's Jay Ottovegio was a four year starter. The special teams coach responsible for these players has switched high schools for the next season, but Turk no doubt has received quality coaching the past few years.

Despite the performance of other aspects of special teams, punting has been consistently solid under Coach Weis. Hopefully Turk will be able to pick up where Fitzpatrick, Price, and Maust have left off.