Bert Faibish is a Sheridan College Print Journalism graduate who previously covered high school football for the Toronto Sun. Before joining Ticats.ca, he played football at Western Tech in Toronto and coached with the Etobicoke Eagles of the OVFL. Follow Bert on Twitter @BertFaibish.
As the three-day event known as E-Camp wrapped up in Toronto on Sunday and the name “Turner” buzzed around the domed confines of the Varsity Centre like bees at a picnic, observers must have felt like they’d seen this movie before.
That’s because last year it was Bishop’s receiver Steven Turner, testing off the charts and catapulting up drafts boards.
Like most of his life, cousin Junior wasn’t far behind.
“He’s always been a year ahead of me, so it’s been like he sets the standard and I have to match it,” said the younger Turner.
“It’s something that always has driven me to compete harder because I know I have something to live up to,” he added.
Of course when preparing for a three day marathon of grueling testing and interviews, it helps to have someone in your corner that has been there before.
“The advice he gave me was to just stick to what I know and trust in my training,” said Junior.
“We both trained at the same place, so he told me that I just had to relax, be myself and just do the things that have made me successful when I’ve been training for E-Camp,” he said.
Cousin Steven’s sage advice must have worked, because Junior tested near the top of his group in every category, showing everyone in attendance that the local boy from the small university belonged on stage with the big boys.
Turner’s 23 reps on the bench press and 37-inch vertical jump were impressive and his 10”1’ broad jump was staggering for a defensive lineman. The jump actually held up through the running backs and linebackers as the top jump until receiver Anthony Parker finally beat it by 6 inches.
For Turner, the concept of making a life out of football wasn’t something he even considered until he realized that there were schools out there that were taking an interest in the Brampton native.
“I didn’t even know football was something I’d be able to do after high school,” he said. “But after my senior year I started getting letters from schools, showing interest in me.”
“Ever since then that’s what I’ve put my mind to, and right now this is living the dream for me, being this close to playing for a team in the CFL,” he added.
In Turner’s mind coming from a smaller school like Bishop’s doesn’t put him at a disadvantage, it gives him a leg up on the competition.
“Going to school at Bishop’s is like being a part of a family,” said Turner.
“Since we have smaller numbers, the classes are more personal and you have more of a one-on-one relationship with your teacher, you’re not just a number,” he said.
Whether it be the intimate atmosphere, the very-capable coaching or the veritable prospect pipeline that seems to run from the GTA to Bishop’s University, you can’t argue with the results.
This year Bishop’s sent three players to E-Camp, all with a legitimate shot of hearing their name called on draft day. Last year Steven Turner and Shawn Gore both made huge impacts, the former being drafted by Toronto and the latter signing a contract with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers before joining the BC Lions.
While the family atmosphere is a big part of it, Junior thinks that there is another big reason for all of their success.
“Coach Blugh is the reason that we’re so ready, so well prepared when we come to things like E-Camp,” said Turner.
“This is the culmination of a four-year process and from day one he’s been telling me that I have the potential to play football at the next level.”
“He just instilled in my head the fact that this is going to take nothing but hard work and dedication, and I really have him to thank for teaching me the game and improving my football knowledge,” he said.
As cousin Steven enters his second training camp with the Argos and Junior waits patiently to hear his name called on draft day, fans of football can rest assured that the Turner legacy is far from over.
“Actually my little brother just committed to Laurier University, so he has a lot to live up to,” said Junior.
Guess we’ll have to stay tuned for the CFL’s 2015 E-Camp.