When Tre Turner initially committed to Virginia Tech, he was the centerpiece of the Hokies’ 2018 class as one of the East Coast’s best receivers and one of the highest-rated offensive players to commit to Virginia Tech in the past few years. However, that changed by the end of the cycle as Dax Hollifield became one of the Hokies’ highest-rated commits of the Justin Fuente era while Quincy Patterson took off and earned Elite 11 honors.
By the time Virginia Tech’s 2018 class was all signed, the focal points were Hollifield and Patterson with Turner stepping into a more under-the-radar position in the Hokies’ class.
So far this fall, Hollifield has shown lots of promise and is pushing Dylan Rivers for his starting backer job while Patterson made his debut against North Carolina and continues to look like VT’s long-term future at QB. Meanwhile, Tre Turner has quietly earned himself a significant offensive role after many, including myself, wondered if he might be a redshirt candidate this season given his slim frame.
Through the first six games, Turner has 7 receptions for 133 yards (playing in 5 out of 6) with 6 of his 7 receptions going for at least 10 yards (his only one under 10 yards was a 9-yard reception against Notre Dame). Turner has shown plenty of big play potential on the outside, but he’s also made some timely catches.
For example, Turner’s 33-yard reception came on a third and 6 right after Duke cut the Hokies’ lead to 10 early in the fourth quarter when Duke seemed to have all the momentum. From there, the Hokies would march down the field and get a touchdown that would essentially be the dagger, giving the Hokies a three-possession lead.
Those big plays in important moments combined with his work ethic has impressed Justin Fuente early this season.
“I’ve been really pleased with his competitiveness. He’s another kid that’s really sharp, that picks things up really quickly and adds versatility. I think as he goes through his career, he’s going to continue to add some strength and continue to be a versatile player for us, but you’re right, he just keeps showing up at critical times and making plays. We’ve got to continue to be consistent, but I’ve been really pleased, most pleased with is competitiveness. He practices well and is anxious to get out there and compete against good people,” Fuente said.
Those questions about his size and strength were the big thing that made many wonder if he would avoid a redshirt as someone who was largely productive because of his above-average speed in high school. Looking ahead to the offseason, one of Turner’s top priorities will likely be to add some more weight onto his frame that should be able to handle more weight without losing his above-average speed for a 6’2” WR.
“What we’ve seen so far, with him making plays in those tough situations, he’s still a ways away physically. He needs a couple years in the weight room, but to see him compete against some good guys in tough situations. It’s been exciting to see that and expect him to continue to get better,” Brad Cornelsen said.
Though Tre Turner does need time in the weight room, that isn’t holding him back from making some big catches that he should be able to catch more often as he adds some more weight.
Already, Turner has shown an ability to go up and win 50-50 balls with his catch against Duke being one of the best examples of that. In addition, Turner has shown an adept ability to use his height and size to take advantage of varying one-on-one matchups to create extra space for him to bring in the catch safely and make it more difficult for either the DB directly covering him or the zone coverage player collapsing on him to make a play.
However, the biggest thing with Turner has been his ability to stretch the field and be a human first down at times averaging 19 yards per reception. Now his number of receptions is limited, but this number isn’t inflated when you consider the previously-mentioned fact that 6 of his 7 receptions have gone for 10+ yards including 4+ for gains of 15 or more.
Turner’s big play potential has helped him gain more and more playing time while he continues to refine his skill set as a wide receiver. Though the sample size is limited, Turner has already shown why he was one of the most highly-pursued wide receivers on the East Coast in the 2018 class as someone who has a knack for big gains.
Tre Turner may have started to fly under the radar by the time the later National Signing Day arrived last February, but the Greensboro native is making an instant impact and reminding Hokie fans about the hype that surrounded him when he committed to the Hokies over 16 months ago.