According to Chuck Pool, Rice’s Assisant Athletics Director, Sports Information, the coaching staff didn’t know exactly what to do with Luke when he arrived at the campus, but they KNEW they had to get him on the field. At the present time, he is on the kickoff return team and punt team. He was one of the few bright spots for the Owls last Saturday, as he averaged 17 yards per return on five kickoffs.
We had a chance to visit with him last Saturday at Reliant Stadium in Houston after his Owls dropped a 35-7 decision to the Houston Cougars in the annual State Farm Bayou Bucket game. We asked him even though his team was off to a rocky 1-4 start on the season what it meant to him to be able to play as a true freshman at Rice.
“It’s a great learning experience. Playing Division I football is a learning experience on its own. Practice itself is a learning experience. Going out there and playing with that kind of competition is a blessing and I’m thankful every day that I get to go out there and do that.”
We also asked him how his ankle was doing now that he was back to playing football again. “It has its good days and bad days. Some days it is really sore and I’ve just got to fight through it and get warm and get going, but some days it is like ice and it is not even there anymore.”
Luke understands what he needs to do at the present, and he is focused on getting the job done. “I just got to catch the ball first and just get what I can; don’t dance in the hole, just cut through there. That’s what they tell me to do and that’s what I’m trying to do. They say I’m a running back. I work out with the running backs, but they really haven’t dubbed me anything yet.”
We discussed the Buckeyes with him during our visit and got his take on the 2012 squad.
“I always follow them every Friday night. You might not be the most talented, but you can be the hardest-working, smartest football player there is. You can tell who has come from a winning program and who hasn’t whenever you step into a Division I locker room and see how people react when someone punches them in the face. Being a Gilmer Buckeye gets you ready for Division I football. District 16-3A gets you ready for Division I football. That’s the toughest District in 3A, and that’s why.”
Luke will do well at Rice and in life as well due to the character instilled in him at Gilmer High School as a Gilmer Buckeye. We are very fortunate to have a program of the quality we have in Gilmer. It is due to a superb coaching staff, as well as to having young men of character like Luke Turner. Everyone in Gilmer wishes him nothing but the best!
We had also hoped to talk with former Buckeye Darrion Pollard who is at Rice as well, but he did not suit out due to an ankle injury and was unavailable.