One of the things that irks as a lot of Texans is when some of the state's best high school players decide not to stay in state. How does Adrian Peterson wind up at Oklahoma? Or how does Aqib Talib go to Kansas? And I'm a Kansas grad who enjoyed watching him play.
As Texans we should want a kid from Houston, Abilene or wherever else to attend a Texas college, and not fill the rosters of OU, OSU, Kansas State or some other school. Wishing thinking, I know.
There is yet another example of that in Arlington Sam Houston senior quarterback Jamal Turner, who has orally committed to Nebraska.
I watched him play last Friday night in a loss against Sachse, and he was the best player on the field by a few thousand yards. On his first touch of the game he ripped off a 77-yard TD run where he reversed fields twice and embarrassed a few would-be tacklers who one day will say, "I played against that guy."
NU signed him to play QB, although I will be shocked if they keep him there. Not because he can't play, but because college programs do that to every high school QB.
Nebraska is getting a good kid, though. A guy who has been through a lot. One day before his senior season started he learned that his mother lost her battle against multiple sclerosis.
"A police officer told me and the coaches told me I didn't have to play but I wanted to play," Turner said. "I went out and played a good game. I played for her and my oldest brother. He died when I was a freshman. It's life. It made me a stronger and better person."
Here are some excerpts of conversation I had with him. Even if you don't like the Cornheads (guilty as charged) it's hard not to like this young man.
Mac Engel: Why Nebraska?
Jamal Turner: It felt like home. I went to UT and Oklahoma and it didn't feel right. Nebraska felt like home. It's a place I could see myself for four years. It was my first time there and the fans were incredible.
ME: Was Nebraska always the place you wanted to go?
JT: No. First it was UT growing up as a little kid. Then I hit reality and thought, 'It might be hard for me to go there and play.' Oklahoma really wanted me bad. I went to a four-day camp there as a sophomore. I really wanted to go there. They offered me a scholarship as an athlete.
ME: What other schools offered you scholarships?
JT: TCU. Texas A&M. Purdue. Vanderbilt. Oklahoma.
ME: Was staying in state a big deal?
JT: It wasn't. I wanted to go to a place where I could fit in the offense and had a good chance of playing early. Growing up here everyone wants to be a Longhorn. I'm originally from Louisiana and moved here when I was 4 or 5. So staying in state wasn't that big of a deal. I have family all over the place. If they want to see me they can watch me on TV.
ME: Was UT the place you wanted to be?
JT: Oh yeah. When Vince Young scored that touchdown in the Rose Bowl I thought, 'That's me.' He wore the same number. I wanted to be Vince Young. I'm going to be there. I went there on a visit and they wanted me as a safety.
ME: Was playing QB important to you?
JT: It really was. I felt like if I was going to change positions it was going to be somewhere I love and for a school that I love. It was Nebraska.
ME: If you didn't play QB what position could you see yourself playing?
JT: I'm not sure if I'll have to change or not. It depends on the competition. I could see myself playing receiver.
ME: Did you care that Nebraska has changed from Big 12 to Big 10?
JT: It doesn't bother me. I'm excited for Nebraska. The Big 10 has its own network, Nebraska will get more money. It's a big move. Growing up, I always thought they were in the Big 10. I didn't even know they were in the Big 12 until this year. It's a good move and they are going to go in and dominate.
- Mac Engel