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How Dallas Turner's Trajectory Changed with 1 Pass-Rush Rep

EAGAN, Minn. — New Vikings outside linebacker Dallas Turner chased fellow first-round pick J.J. McCarthy.

The Alabama defender sacked the Michigan quarterback in the Rose Bowl, but McCarthy was able to rally the Wolverines past the Crimson Tide to advance to the CFP National Championship.

On Friday, Turner followed McCarthy during their introductory press conference with Twin Cities media members and was asked about their previous encounter.

"I'll be honest. J.J. definitely hurt my feelings January 1st. You know, that was probably the first time I cried in a little minute, but we're teammates now," Turner said. "After the game, I kind of unfollowed him on Instagram, you know, a little salty. But yeah, we're teammates now. That's my brother now, we go to war together, that's my ride or die now."

Even though Turner unfollowed McCarthy for a bit, he did say he kept tabs on him during the draft process.

McCarthy was asked about the scouting report for Turner heading into the Rose Bowl. Simply put?

"Game wrecker."

"Somebody that could affect the game at all times. Somebody that we're going to have to make sure our Mike point is directed toward his side," McCarthy said. "Chris Braswell, another great player, but we knew 15 (Turner) was somebody we were going to have to worry about.

"And it's going to be amazing not being able to get hit by him now. You know, in practice it might get a little dicey. I don't know how it is as a rookie," McCarthy added. "But I'm just super blessed to have him on the team not just because of the great player he is but the great person. I got to spend some time with his family on the plane, and [he's] just made of the right roots and really just appreciative that Coach [Kevin] O'Connell, Kwesi [Adofo-Mensah] and the Wilf family, added him to the team because he's a great addition."

One rep changed Turner's trajectory

One high school rep at defensive end in South Florida put Turner on his eventual path to the Vikings.

Turner arrived in Minnesota Friday, less than 24 hours after the Vikings selected the outside linebacker with the 17th overall pick.

The Vikings traded up from 23 to 17 after a historic run of 14 consecutive offensive players to open the 2024 NFL Draft pushed elite defensive players down the board.

Turner was happy to return to Minnesota where he had made a Top 30 visit to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center earlier this month.

His journey to professional football included developing his talent in high school to playing at Alabama and earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2023.

View photos OLB Dallas Turner being selected as one of the Vikings 2024 first round draft picks in Detroit.

Turner began playing football at age 5, logging time at running back, linebacker, cornerback and receiver until Pat Surtain, the former Dolphin and Chief who is the father of Broncos CB Pat Surtain II and coached Turner at American Heritage High School, asked Turner to take a rep at defensive end.

"That one rep changed my whole football career," Turner said. "I'm here now as a pass rusher."

"I definitely did win that one rep," Turner added when asked about the outcome of the play. "It was like a little sack, but I was fast and stuff like that. So, I did a little move and it looked good, and so he was like, 'OK, I like it,' and ever since then, my hand was in the dirt."

View photos of Michigan outside linebacker Dallas Turner who was selected No. 17 overall in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Turner helped his team go 14-0 in 2017 but was sidelined as a sophomore because of a leg injury. He recorded 16 sacks and three forced fumbles as a junior, earning Broward County's Defensive Player of the Year and helping the team record 10 wins in 2019.

For his senior season, Turner transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas High School where Pro Football Hall of Famer Jason Taylor was his defensive coordinator. Turner recorded 13 sacks in just nine games in a shortened 2020 season, picking up five-star ratings and the opportunity to play for Alabama.

Turner appeared in 42 games and made 27 starts for the Tide, learning valuable lessons as he helped recently retired head coach Nick Saban's teams win two SEC Championships and advance to the CFP National Championship once and the semifinal round once.

"I feel like I'm most definitely prepared — I wouldn't say it was a certain lesson, but it was probably just like the day-to-day life of being held at that standard of being a student athlete at the University of Alabama. Everybody can't do that," Turner said. "But it was definitely just a day-to-day lifestyle, just being a student athlete and just being coached by him, seeing him every day in practice, him always being hard on you no matter what. So it was just a blessing to be coached by Coach Saban. I feel like I wouldn't be who I am today if I wasn't at the University of Alabama, or for Coach Saban."

Turner is excited to now play for Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores and join the effort with new free agent additions Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel. He's watched film of both as he's continued trying to improve his game.

"I'm a very ambitious person, so as soon as I found … what I knew I was going to do for the sport of football, I went hard. I wanted to know everything about it," Turner said. "I wanted to know different pass rushes, how they rush, and just different techniques and stuff like that. And I was willing to learn a lot. I watched a lot of guys, watched a lot of football, and just understood the art of pass rushing and just playing on the line scrimmage in general, just being a defensive end. I fell in love with it."