This will be Turner’s second tour of duty with Bulldog football. He served as defensive line coach three seasons, from 2007-2009, under different head coaches. During that first Mississippi State stint Turner helped tutor and/or recruit one future All-American and two more All-SEC selections, as well as a total of six NFL-bound Bulldogs.
Not only is Turner, 50, well-known in Mississippi State circles, but he has lengthy experiences around the Southeastern Conference. This will be his sixth stop among four conference programs over the course of a career that began in 1985.
Turner came first to Starkville in 2007 to handle defensive linemen for Coach Sylvester Croom. In that debut year he helped the Bulldogs reach their first post-season game in the decade with a victory over Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl. He had charge of a front-line featuring second-team All-SEC end Titus Brown, a converted linebacker; and a tackles rotation of Kyle Love, Jesse Bowman, and Cortez McCraney. They and Brown would all sign professional contracts. He also coached Academic All-SEC athletes Tim Bailey LaMarcus Williams in 2007-08.
In 2009 Turner was one of the two assistant coaches retained by Mullen. That year he coached juco transfer Pernell McPhee to second-team All-SEC honors, and as a senior McPhee would win first-team as well as become a fifth-round draft choice. Turner was key during the coaching transition in keeping many 2009 recruits on board, such as signing future All-American tackle Fletcher Cox and classmate Josh Boyd. He also helped set the groundwork for future recruits like Kaleb Eulls, James Carmon, and more.
He left Mississippi State after the 2009 season to join the staff of newly-promoted Kentucky coach and friend Joker Phillips, who was released during this past season.
Turner, 50, is from Goldstone, N.C. and a 1985 alumnus of Davidson where his coaching career began, working with running backs and tight ends one year and linebackers the next. After two seasons as a graduate aide at North Carolina State he moved to Indiana, Pa., University as defensive line coach for the first time. He spent two seasons at James Madison and made his initial SEC move as Kentucky defensive ends coach in 1993-94. A couple of ACC stints at North Carolina State and Virginia followed, both times as defensive tackles/linebackers coach; then a year at Minnesota and from 2001-05 at Vanderbilt as defensive line and recruiting coordinator.
Turner spent 2006 with Alabama defensive ends before moving to Mississippi State.
This hiring fills one of two openings on Mullen’s 2013 staff, both defensive. Turner steps into the position-assignment left by three-year line coach and two-year defensive coordinator Chris Wilson. Mullen reduced Wilson’s duties prior to the Gator Bowl and after State struggles this season to keep pace with tempo offenses. Co-coordinator Geoff Collins, who took charge of the overall offense for the Gator Bowl, was promoted to coordinator last Friday.
State still has a vacancy left by the Christmas break departure of cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith, who accepted a similar post at Auburn and did not coach in the Gator Bowl. His duties were taken by safeties coach Tony Hughes. Going into this week’s college football coaching convention Mullen was weighing whether to replace the position directly or go after a special teams aide, or some combination of responsibilities.
Collins becomes the fourth overall defensive coordinator in five years for Mullen. There were no changes pending on the offensive staff as of now.