Sports Journalism Blog

By Andrew Thomison | @Andrew_Thomison

Sports Capital Journalism Program

INDIANAPOLIS — Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner is considered one of the best pass rushers in the 2024 National Football League Draft class. The consensus first team All-American and Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as voted by the coaches played a significant role in Alabama making another college football appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Coming off a career-setting season, Turner is set to make sure his on-field accomplishments translate onto the NFL stage come April.

Turner is an expected first-round pick who set career-highs in sacks (10), tackles for loss (14.5), total tackles (53) and solo tackles (28) last season.

At 6-foot-4 and 252 pounds, Turner explained why he believes he can play anywhere, describing the qualities that make his game unique.

“My explosiveness and versatility,” Turner said, when asked what characteristics make him the best pass rusher in this class. “Being able to play off the ball and on the ball as well.”

Turner credited some of his successes to learning from teammates Will Anderson Jr. and Chris Braswell. Anderson Jr. was named Defensive Rookie of the Year for the 2023 season as a member of the Houston Texans, and Braswell has been projected to go somewhere in the later half of the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

“We’re close off the field,” Turner said. “We really just have a lot of fun, but we learn off each other. All three of us are different in our own type of way. We just took bits and pieces each other and molded it into the game we have now.”

Turner spoke candidly on his former head coach Nick Saban’s retirement and was grateful for the opportunities Saban provided him and other Alabama players during his coaching career.

“It kind of hurt a lot of people’s hearts,” Turner said of Saban’s retirement. “A lot of people think you can coach college football forever, which you really can’t. But he opened a lot of opportunities and changed a lot of hearts. He changed mine as well and the players he’s coached.”

Turner also credited Saban for helping him build on his self-discipline during the past three seasons.

“Having the self-discipline I have now,” Turner said. “I feel like self-discipline builds my character. Self-discipline can go a long way.”

Turner acknowledged the difference between the college game and the professional level, emphasizing the importance of being confident in his skillset.

“The main difference between the next level and the college level is the talent level,” Turner said. “But you’ve always got to have that confidence, and you’ve always got to put the work in every single day. You’re a professional, at the end of the day, and it’s your job.”

While the versatile edge rusher has his sights set on the NFL Draft, Turner emphasized the importance of never getting too complacent and that there will always be ways for him to improve his game.

“I feel like the type of person that can never get complacent,” Turner said. “So, even if I have a good game, I’m going to still always find something that I need to work on. I try and get better every day.”