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McCarthy & Turner Vikings Teammates After Near College Overlap

EAGAN, Minn. – In an alternate universe, J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner might have been college teammates.

And now they are Vikings.

Minnesota's 2024 first-round draft picks will soon share a locker room and don jerseys of the same color. They're excited for that experience after facing each other when Turner sacked McCarthy in the Rose Bowl. The quarterback, however, led Michigan past Alabama to advance to the CFP National Championship Game.

Turner spoke with "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen Monday morning and shared that, of the colleges that recruited him out of high school, Michigan had been in his top five destinations.

"At one point, I definitely was close to going to Michigan," Turner said on Allen's 9 to Noon show on KFAN. "And I took a visit out there. It definitely was an option on the table, so me and J.J. could have been teammates. But Alabama was just the best choice for me and my family."

Turner shined for the Crimson Tide under former Head Coach Nick Saban, rising to be who many considered the top edge rusher in the 2024 NFL Draft class.

Though Alabama fell to Michigan in the Rose Bowl, Turner had a solid outing with three tackles and the Tide's lone sack of McCarthy.

Turner admitted he'd underestimated McCarthy in a few areas heading into the matchup.

"He's a sneaky athlete. He's a very sneaky athlete," Turner told Allen. "He's very athletic, and I kind of slept on him.

"And he can run the offense. With being such a run-heavy team, I kind of doubted his ability to be an actual quarterback, and he proved that wrong," Turner added. "But we're teammates, now, so I don't have to worry about him anymore."

When the Vikings traded up one spot to nab McCarthy 10th overall, Turner (who had initially been projected as a top-10 pick) figured he wouldn't land in Minnesota.

But an unprecedented run of 14 offensive players to start the draft meant the first defensive player didn't go off the board until No. 15 – and allowed the Vikings to trade up from 23 to 17 and get Turner.

McCarthy likely also didn't expect to be teammates with his former foe.

But he's glad it all played out the way it did.

McCarthy said Michigan viewed Turner as a "game changer."

"He was a game-wrecker. Somebody that you always had to worry about because he could impact the game in such a big way, and if you're ignorant to the fact of his great skills and abilities and high motor, then he's going to come and bite you in the butt," McCarthy told Allen. "Dallas is such a great guy, a great pickup because of his intangibles and the head on his shoulders and his desire to be great and learn everything he possibly can.

"It's those things that are inevitably going to keep you in this league for a long time, and Dallas has a really bright future," he added.

McCarthy and Turner shared a private jet trip from Detroit to the Twin Cities last Friday for their introductory press conferences. Their careers are just getting to the runway. Both aim to balance climbing while staying grounded mentally.

"I'm just going to try to be the best version of myself every single day, get to know my teammates, get to know the playbook in and out and just be around the guys and focus on the now," McCarthy said. "I want to dominate the 'now' of every day. I want to win the daily battles … because that's going to shape my future."