Asa Turner finally knows where he needs to be.
That’s true both of a position and a program. A 6-foot-2, 199-pound athlete from Carlsbad, Calif., Turner originally verbally committed to play safety at Washington in July 2018. But the four-star prospect declined to sign with the Huskies in December while considering an offer to play linebacker at Notre Dame.
Ultimately, Turner felt more comfortable at safety — the position he starred in at Carlsbad High School.
But that wasn’t the only reason he re-committed to Washington.
“Notre Dame came in right before senior year,” Turner told The Times this week. “They had talked to me a little bit here and there, but they didn’t offer me until right before senior year.
“So I feel like that made a little bit of a difference, just the relationship that I’ve made with (Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy) Lake. He’s been there from the start.”
Specifically, Lake has been there from the start of Turner’s sophomore season, long before the rangy safety was earning invitations to the All-American Bowl or the Polynesian Bowl; before offers were flying in from essentially every Pac-12 program; before Turner’s name finally landed on a desk at Notre Dame.
Turner — who has also been training with Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde — spent his spring break last week in Seattle, essentially shadowing Lake.
And three years later, the only thing that’s changed about UW’s defensive coordinator is his title.
“I went up there at the end of my sophomore year when my coaches went to a coaching clinic there for an unofficial visit. I was no big-time recruit or anything like that. I had no offers,” Turner said.
“But I remember watching him, and he was still the same coach (now). So I definitely liked that. I like the way he coaches and I think I’ll fit right in.”
But how exactly will Turner fit into the Huskies’ not-so-crowded safety competition? Through nine spring practices, senior Myles Bryant and junior Brandon McKinney have been the primary starters, with converted wide receiver Alex Cook and early enrollee freshman Cameron Williams working with the second team. But beyond that, the program’s depth has rapidly deteriorated.
And that may provide an opportunity for Turner to make an early impact.
“Nothing’s set in stone right now,” Lake said last week. “We’ve got a bunch of competition. Asa Turner is here (watching this week) too. He’s going to be thrown into the mix coming up. (Fellow freshmen defensive backs) Cam Fabiculanan, Trent McDuffie – all these guys are going to arrive in June.
“It’s going to be an awesome, competitive camp with I feel a lot of talented players. We’re going to see what happens when the dust settles at the end of August.”
When said dust settles, Turner expects to still be standing (and hopefully starting, too).
“Coach Lake told me he thinks I could play early ever since I was a sophomore,” Turner said. “He knew they’d be losing a lot of safeties in the next few years. He’s told me for a long time that he thinks I can come in and start and be freshman of the year and all that kind of stuff.
“(So it’s all about) achieving those things and doing what he thinks I can do. If I do my best, whatever comes will come.”
Last week, Turner came to Seattle on Tuesday and stayed until Saturday night.
In between, he didn’t waste much time.
“Other than working out with the team and practicing with the team I was everywhere they were,” Turner said. “I was coming in before them. They’d have a team meeting at 8 a.m. I was in there at 7 a.m. with (assistant defensive backs coach Will) Harris, getting my plays down.
“I was pretty much there the whole day, because they’d go to classes and stuff and then come back for meetings. So instead of my mom picking me up I’d have private meetings with coach Lake, coach Harris, just going over plays and stuff like that.”
Of course, Turner acknowledges that he’ll be behind when he settles in Seattle for good this summer. After all, spending five days at spring practice is hardly the same as absorbing the entire experience. (Williams, for example, has already made a significant impression in April.)
Turner’s first priorities upon arrival will be to digest a denser defensive playbook while adding muscle to his 199-pound frame.
Then, all he has to do is reward Lake’s longtime loyalty.
That, and prove that he chose the right position after all.
“I feel like everyone thinks a big safety would just come down in the box (and play the run),” Turner said. “I feel like I’m good with the ball. I played receiver in high school. I played receiver growing up mainly and I transferred over to safety when I got to high school.
“Some people say I might move to linebacker and all that stuff. They don’t think I’m able to be more ball-aware, so I think I’ll be able to prove that.”