CLEMSON, S.C. (WIS) - Nolan Turner had just two scholarship offers coming out of high school.
One was from UAB and the other came from “little ole Clemson.” Turner, who wasn’t listed among the nation’s top recruits, proved to be the difference-maker for the Tigers in Saturday’s 29-23 Fiesta Bowl win.
“That’s God’s plan,” Swiney said when asked about Turner’s journey up to this point. “That’s all I can tell you. He’s an unbelievable player. He’s talented. Same reason Tom Brady is a sixth-round draft pick. I mean, people miss. It’s that simple.”
The junior safety out of Vestavia Hills, Ala., had just one tackle in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State, but he also came away with the interception that iced the game for his team. It was a moment that Swinney predicted would happen just before the Buckeyes started their final drive.
Unlike Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, Turner doesn’t draw a lot of attention from the media. However, his work ethic speaks volumes to Swinney. In fact, what Turner has done up to this point drew comparisons from Swinney to other former Tigers.
“Adam Humphries makes $9 million a year, and he had one offer: Us. One Division I offer. Grady Jarrett was a two-star D-tackle and a fifth-round draft pick and he's probably the second-highest-paid D-tackle in the NFL.”
Swinney said he went back to watch film on Turner after a trio of Clemson defensive backs -- TJ Green, Mackensie Alexander, and Jayron Kearse -- opted to leave for the NFL. Once he turned it on, he knew Turner was special.
“I watched his tape, his highlight, and I'm looking at it and I'm going, this guy can play,” Swinney recalled. “I called his coach, and I was like, ‘Why does he not have any?’ And his exact words, he said, ‘I have no idea. He's as good a player as I've had in 50 years here being the head coach at Vestavia.’ So then I took it down and I took it to Brent (Venables), and I said, ‘Hey, I want you to watch this guy.’ Brent watched it, and he's like, ‘Man, who's this guy? Where is he at?’ and I said, ‘That's all I needed to know.’”
Turner and the Tigers now have a chance to win their third national title in four years when they face LSU in New Orleans on Jan. 13.