E.A. Sports Today

Manning up

[corner-ad id=1]White Plains senior Turner takes all the changes in his career in stride



By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Caleb Turner takes a pragmatic view towards change, and Lord knows he’s been through enough of it.

Change is inevitable — in sports and in life — so when it presents he figures you might as well “man up and deal with it.”

Turner has seen more change in his football career than most. The White Plains senior is working with his third head coach in as many years and, with his switch from fullback to guard this season, his third position in two years.

“It is a big deal, but it’s not a big deal,” he said after a recent practice. “It is a big deal because it’s so hard to make a transition like that because coaches teach different. Other than that I don’t think all this change is a bad thing.

“Change is going to happen, you’ve got to man up and deal with it; do what you’re told to do.”

Turner’s career wasn’t always this unsettled. He’s been with the varsity since eighth grade and spent his first three years under the tutelage of Heath Harmon. His first experience with a coaching change came as a junior when the school brought aboard Larry Strain and this year, but Strain left unexpectedly for Handley, and administrators acted quickly to elevate Chris White this season.

“Going through with Coach Harmon it was pretty much the same thing, but we weren’t getting anywhere with it, to tell you the truth,” he said. “But I knew what to do because I had been taught it so much.

“Coach Strain came in and it’s a whole different set; there are new things you’ve got to learn, he’s a different guy, he does things different. The first day of practice we were like, ‘What have we gotten into? He’s going to break us in half; this guy is rough.’ But we liked it because he pushes us and makes us a man.

“We thought we’re going to graduate and he’s still going to be here. Then Coach White gets the job … and they’re different.”

Even through all the coaching changes Turner was able to maintain some consistency in positions. He has been a fixture at fullback and middle linebacker, but this season the Wildcats are moving him from 5-11, 185-pound fullback to guard.

White called it “the biggest move” they’ve made.

Typically, Turner took the move to the line as an extension of his fullback duties.

“It’s more like a blocking thing with a low number,” he said. “And a number doesn’t mean anything to me as long as I’m playing.”

For the record, he wore 42 as a fullback. He’ll be in 54 as a lineman; it fits better as a linebacker, too.

White has gained a great appreciation for Turner knowing all the player has been through in his career.

“You’re talking about a guy who’s a senior who took himself out of the limelight of being a running back to going down there in the trenches where all the work’s done, and he’s taken it in stride,” White said. “When I was a player (at Munford) I played for the same guy my whole career, so I don’t know what change is for these guys when it comes to that.

“I respect him a lot because that tells you he’s a team guy. My respect for them is overflowing. They took it in stride and they put their team on their back.”

One change all the Wildcats wouldn’t mind experiencing is what takes place on the field and at the end of the season. The Wildcats haven’t had a winning season since 2003 and haven’t made the playoffs since 1994.

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