When he started training with NFA as a seventh grader, John Turley was a quarterback first and a quarterback foremost.
“Growing up, it was my favorite position,” he said. “It was always quarterback for me.”
Being flexible is an important part of football, and Turley is a classic example.
After playing QB in eighth grade and stepping back under center for the JV team as a freshman at Charlotte Christian in North Carolina, things changed.
Heading into his sophomore season, Turley had to compete for the starting varsity job with Austin Kendall, a four-star talent who has already received football scholarship offers from Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee and Kentucky.
“I was slotted to start my sophomore year and (Kendall) came in and we competed,” Turley said. “But I ended up breaking my right wrist. So I played safety. I casted it up and played with it. At that point, I had that attitude where I still wanted to play and let’s see how this works out. It went really well.”
Another state title
With Turley playing defense, the Knights won their second straight NCISAA Division I state title. Heading into his junior season, Turley was actually looking forward to playing safety again and being a slot receiver on offense instead of a quarterback.
“I was going to be a receiver and safety and I was really looking forward to that,” Turley said. “But the next thing I know, I was playing quarterback again. My first reaction was, ‘I don’t know if I want to do that now.’ I was starting to get comfortable at the new positions.”
Last June, Turley got word that Kendall was heading back to his old school, Cuthbertson High, so Charlotte Christian needed a new QB. That leads us back to the flexibility factor.
“I found out at the beginning of the summer about switching back and it was an adjustment,” Turley said. “But by the first game I was ready to go. It took the summer for me to get fully comfortable.”
Tapping his standout athletic ability and natural QB instincts, Turley led the Knights to an 11-1 record last season and third straight state title.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “Going to practice was more enjoyable because I got comfortable back there at quarterback again and I really liked it. Just being able to control the offense and leading the team, I was in a real comfort zone.”
Turley passed for 1,581 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushed for 215 yards.
“John doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and really never made a bad decision to put us in a bad spot,” Knights Head Coach Jason Estep told the Charlotte Observer. “We ask him to do a lot with both his arm and his legs. He doesn’t get rattled, he just goes out every game and makes plays.”
In the state championship game, a 28-21 OT win over Charlotte Latin, Turley really showed his flexibility by catching a 34-yard touchdown pass from star running back Elijah Deveaux.
“After I started playing other positions, I almost enjoyed them more,” Turley said. “But after getting back to playing quarterback again this past season, I realized how much I like it.”
As a senior this upcoming season, Turley would like to use his great speed even more and run the football.
“I’d say I’m more of a dual threat quarterback, although it didn’t really show it in the numbers from last season,” Turley said. “We didn’t have much depth at our school so we had to be more conservative with me. We didn’t run it much until the end of the season. But next year we’re going to be a little more of that style, the dual threat. I like to run the ball and have the run/pass option.”
With a full year of varsity quarterback experience, Turley’s statistics should rise in his senior season. But individual accomplishments mean little to the QB.
“Winning another state championship is the main goal,” Turley said. “That’s the No. 1 objective, so we have to do whatever it takes to get that. I don’t care about numbers, as long as we win the state championship. That’s my main goal. But I expect to play better. Be more efficient, that kind of stuff, now that I have a year of varsity under my belt. I should be more confident and more efficient, not make as many mistakes.”
Turley has played all over the football field on both sides of the ball, but he started his career as a quarterback and started working with NFA.
“They’ve helped a lot with my mechanics,” Turley said. “Also, just maturity. The way they treat you at the camps, they expect you to be grown up, take responsibility and basically, be a man. They’ve really helped me with my attitude, the way I look at things.”
Turley has one more varsity season at Charlotte Christian, and he is hoping to continue his football career in college.
“It has always been a dream for me, for as long as I can remember,” Turley said. “There’s not much happening right now, maybe because I only have one season of experience, maybe because of my size. But we’ll see what happens. I don’t doubt myself being able to play football in college.”
Turley is already used to being flexible and playing different positions. If interested colleges want to recruit him as an athlete and have him play defensive back or in the slot, Turley would be receptive.
While he is a standout football player, Turley is equally skilled on the baseball field. He plays shortstop and outfield for the Knights’ varsity team.
“I really enjoy playing baseball a lot,” Turley said. “Actually, I would love to play either football or baseball in college. If the opportunity comes to play both sports, that would be ideal. I would love to do that.”