After pointing out Nolan Turner was 'supposed to have inside help' on a big play against Ohio State, safeties/special teams coach Mickey Conn quickly added that Turner might not have the measurables, but is where he is because "He's a football player."
"Yeah, I like the instinctive guys, and the guys you're naming (Isaiah Simmons, K'Von Wallace) were very instinctive players," Conn said Tuesday. "Different body types, but very instinctive at what they did, and those are the guys are gonna win for you. The guys that are going to make plays. You get some big body kids, and you get excited about them, but if they can't play, you're better off putting a smaller guy in that has those instincts.
"That's where a guy like Nolan Turner got his opportunity. He didn't have the measurables that everybody was looking for, but when you put him on the field, He was better than these other guys, and you saw it. He's a football player, and to me, that's what I look for in practice. I'm looking for safeties that can play football... I don't know if anybody's ever defended (Turner) on this (Chris Olave touchdown), but he was supposed to have inside help on that play."
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables' son Tyler is another in the safety room who Conn believes plays above what his measurables say he should be.
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"(Tyler's) another guy that doesn't have the measurables, but he's a football player," Conn said. "He's strong as an ox in the weight room, and he'll throw his body around out there. He's smart, he's fast. I mean, you go back in high school, this kid was a quarterback.
"I mean, he's got unbelievable change of direction, quickness, explosion, and he loves the game. Those are the kind of kids that that end up surpassing some of these big body, high profile guys that may not be good football players. I think in recruiting, we (can) lose sight of the game to the measurables."
Turner had the common disadvantage of youth alongside him in Lannden Zanders and Joseph Charleston, who just began to see their most critical on-field reps as sophomores last season. Now juniors, Dabo Swinney told Clemson SI they now have "thicker skin" and are more capable of the help Turner needed at points.
"That whole (safety) group, it had some moments," Swinney told All Clemson. "It was a very young group, and then, of course, COVID-19. All those guys have progressed; I mean, you got Ray Thornton (III), he's a redshirt sophomore. You've got Lannden now with a couple of years of experience under his belt. Charleston, a couple of years. These are juniors now.
"They've gotten, like I said, they've got some scars on them, thicker skin, and just a lot of knowledge that they've acquired... I'm excited about what they've got the chance to do this year."