Countdown UNC’s 10 Best Players: #2 Landon Turner


In the days leading up to the start of college football season, Keeping It Heel will be counting down UNC Football’s 10 best players, continuing today with number 2, Landon Turner. Come back to see who else makes the top 10.

#10 — Dez Lawrence

#9 — Naz Jones

#8 — Jessie Rogers

#7 — T.J. Logan

#6 — Mack Hollins

#5 — Quinshad Davis

#4 — Ryan Switzer

#3 — Jeff Schoettmer


Offensive lineman never get any of the glory.

When a touchdown is scored, who gets all the credit? Not the lineman. Everyone cheers the running back for the run or the quarterback for the throw, but hardly anyone recognizes the block that opened up the run or the perfect pocket that allowed for the perfect pass.

Offensive lineman, therefore, are almost always underappreciated by fanbases. This is a true shame, because the Tar Heels have one of the best offensive lineman in the country in Landon Turner this season. Turner is a preseason All-American according to Phil Steele and CBS Sports.

The fans know Landon Turner is good, but they don’t have a highlight play to point to. Everyone can point to Ryan Switzer’s punt return against Cincinnati, or a great run by Marquise Williams, like his 52 yard run against UVA.

That’s what I’m here for, fanbase. I give you Landon Turner’s highlight play. You want to know what makes him a great college football player and a premium prospect for the NFL Draft? It is plays like this.

Turner lines up as the left guard on the play. On the snap, he pulls out to the left, running in front of the back carrying the football.

To see the greatness of Landon Turner on this play, you have to train your eye a bit away from watching the football and towards watching number 78, Turner. As the play develops, watch Turner target a linebacker and blow him up at the point of attack. The linebacker is blown back a few feet into another Pitt defender, giving Turner a bowling “split” of sorts by knocking down two Panthers with one block. The running back is able to run behind Turner and pick up a handful of yards on the play.

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That’s a darn good football play right there. Not a lot of guards can do that. Some are too slow to run in front of a back. Others too uncoordinated to put a hat on a linebacker. Others still too weak to make an impact and create a hole. Turner manages to get out in front of the play, hit somebody and hit somebody hard enough to create a few extra yards.

This is the kind of play that gets scouts excited. Turner is a projected first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft if he stays healthy and plays at the level he has been playing at so far during his time in Carolina blue.

2015 will be Turner’s fourth year on the line. As a freshman, he played a role on one of the great offensive lines in UNC Football history. That 2012 line included James Hurst at left tackle, Jonathon Cooper at left guard, Russell Bodine at center, Brennan Williams, Travis Bond and Turner on the right side. All the names listed there are NFL caliber players, with only Turner remaining as the last guy not playing in the league yet.

Turner is good as both a run and a pass blocker. I like him better as a run blocker because of his elite athleticism, but he can do both things well.

I will save a super in-depth film study for another time, but I did want to point out one example of Turner’s ability to get downfield and be athletic. Check out this play against Pittsburgh…

Turner does a really good job here of hustling over to the left side of the field and doing just enough to throw the Pitt defender off his mark, allowing for a gain and a first down. All That’s another good football play from a great player.

More and more, NFL teams are starting to realize the value of interior offensive lineman. This Robert Mays piece from Grantland elaborates on the value both players and teams are starting to put on players once disregarded or even forgotten. Landon Turner is coming along at the right time then, because after he finishes one more dominating season, he is going to make whichever NFL team drafts him very happy.

The next time you are celebrating a Carolina touchdown, don’t forget the lineman and specifically Turner. Odds are that when you watch the replay, you will see that he should be the one getting the credit.