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DJ Turner looks like a solid choice to man the slot corner position

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While his long-term home might be on the outside, he should be the nickel to start the year

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 08 Western Michigan at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are many uncertainties surrounding college football right now. The 2020 season is still in jeopardy, and even if a season does occur it will do so likely in empty stadiums with a conference-only schedule. Still, it is never too early to take a look at the Michigan depth chart and the players slated to contribute whenever football does resume. Join us as we comb through the roster and answer key questions heading into this fall.

DJ Turner, redshirt FR

247 Composite Ranking: 3 stars (CB 40, Overall 400)
2019 Stats: 4 games played

Someone will need to step up in the Michigan secondary this year, particularly when it comes to the fifth defensive back spot. The Wolverines often field three cornerbacks but do not have many options with any sort of experience. There are going to be snaps played by relatively new faces this fall, but who they go to is up in the air.

One candidate to seize this opportunity is DJ Turner. The redshirt freshman made just a few appearances last year — all on special teams — but has the look of a player that can be a big part of the defense going forward. He is still a bit away from being a locked-in starter, but he should be in contention to get some real playing time this fall.

Can Turner make his way into the cornerback rotation?

Turner was a compelling recruit with a good ceiling. He is great in coverage and a reliable man corner, able to stick with receivers and move across the field. Most analysts commend his physicality and ball skills, and with some development he should be on track to grab a starting outside corner role. He may not have the biggest frame, but with a year to build up his weight, he should be ready to go this fall.

The one area with some question marks in his game is his speed, which is a little slower than what top corners typically produce. There are reports that Turner already looks better than he did during the recruiting process, and he does not seem to lack the quickness or mobility needed to stick with his man on tape, so I would consider this more of an unknown than a definite weakness.

This year, though, the expectation should be for Turner to fight for the third cornerback spot. Like everyone else in contention, he offers little prior experience, so it will come down to his performance in camp and at practice. Ahead of last season the coaching staff seemed pretty impressed with him, but he dealt with some nagging injuries throughout the year which limited him to just special teams action. Now with a year under his belt, he should be able to prove he is good enough to contribute at least in nickel packages this fall.

Turner has a genuine shot at being a real threat at cornerback. He has good technique and a high football IQ which are obviously necessary to hang with top opposing receivers. Given his lack of experience, though, an introduction to the defense as a slot corner seems to make the most sense. He should be able to match up well enough physically at the position, and a solid performance could set him up for a big role in 2021.