USC-bound star grateful for a final chance to wear black and gold uniform

BY PHILIP M. BOWMAN

pbowman@postandcourier.com

Gerald Turner gets one more chance to end his high school football career on a high note when he represents Goose Creek in today’s Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

Turner, one of 44 seniors from South Carolina selected to play in the nation’s oldest high school football all-star game, expected to play in the Division II-AAAA state championship game earlier this month. Goose Creek was the prohibitive favorite to win its second state title before being bounced from the playoffs when the South Carolina High School League ruled the team used an ineligible player.

The Gators’ 35-25 playoff victory over Bluffton on Nov. 16 turned out to be the team’s season finale.

“Things happen for a reason, but I am still trying to figure this one out,” said the 6-2, 225-pound defensive end. “I played in the state championship game at Clemson last year, and can only imagine what it would have been like to play at Williams-Brice (Stadium).”

It was the goal of every Class AAAA football player in the state — competing for a state championship at the University of South Carolina’s football stadium.

For Turner, playing at Williams-Brice Stadium will become reality next fall when he is a member of the South Carolina Gamecocks. He said his commitment to the program and coach Steve Spurrier is solid. He will sign his national letter of intent on Feb. 6.

“I’m impressed with the way they play a fast and physical defense,” Turner said. “I am really going to enjoy playing for coach Spurrier. He’s a little bit different, but he’s the best of the best. Even though it’s a couple of months away, I am ready to sign those papers and move on in my career.”

Today’s game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. at Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg, will be a sample of what college football is all about. The players are the best from South Carolina and North Carolina, and all of them will be fast, strong and have impressive resumes.

Turner’s resume is among the best. He’s a two-time all-state selection and was voted the Class AAAA Lower State Lineman of the Year and the Class AAAA Defensive Player of the year.

Most teams chose to run away from his side of the field, but he still had good numbers his senior season. He logged 66 tackles, including 19 tackles for a loss.

He had eight sacks and 25 quarterback pressures. He broke up eight passes and even scored a touchdown.

“Everybody up here has the talent,” Turner said. “You have the best from South Carolina against North Carolina. So you know the talent is here.

“I am happy to be here. I get to play in the Shrine Bowl and in college. Some of my teammates can’t say that. Their season and careers ended too early.”

Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil