Heading into the season, if you asked anyone around the Pitt program who their top wide receiver would be, the names Taysir Mack, Jordan Addison, Shockey Jacques-Louis or Jared Wayne would’ve been brought up.
While Addison has lived up to the large amount of hype that he’s received, someone else has come out of nowhere to be the Panthers top receiving threat after four games.
Despite not joining the team until Sept. 1, which was only 11 days before the team’s opener against Austin Peay, graduate transfer D.J. Turner has been dynamic and Kenny Pickett’s best weapon.
Turner stepped up following the injury to Addison on Saturday and turned in the best performance of his career with a 186 -ard receiving game. Turner’s 186 yard effort, was the best by a Pitt wide receiver since Greg Lee (188 yards) in 2004.
”They were doing a good job of stopping the run and Coach Whip dialed them up down the field a little bit,” said Kenny Pickett. “DJ had a great game and our guys were getting open. I just had to put it on them.”
Former Terp @_DjTurner1 had a great game for Pitt today, finishing with a career-high 186 yds on 8 rec.
With his family & NFL dreams in mind, he transferred after the Big Ten postponed. The decision, which he said was very hard to make, is paying off.pic.twitter.com/Q6twXr6AVz
— Lila Bromberg (@lilabbromberg) October 3, 2020
To put what he’s accomplished through four games in perspective, consider that in his four years with Maryland, Turner collected a total of 294 yards.
Turner 4 games with Pitt: 319 yards, 1 TD
Turner 4 seasons with Maryland: 294 yards, 1 TD
Taking into account the level of recruit Turner was when originally signing with Maryland, this breakout season shouldn’t be a total surprise. Coming out of DeMatha Catholic in Maryland, Turner was a four-star recruit while getting recruited by programs such as Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech.
While some viewed Turner as having a Quadree Henderson-type role in this offense, that hasn’t been the case as he’s been able to consistently get open and give Pickett a down-field threat.
Kenny Pickett throws a dime to DJ Turner to the 1 & then takes it himself to give Pitt (-13.5) a 20-17 lead over NC State#BarstoolSportsbook
— Bet The Pigskin (@betthepigskin) October 3, 2020
With Addison and Wayne’s availability in question for the immediate future, Turner’s role will no doubt continue to be a major one.
It’s funny how things work out as Turner has gone from not being on the roster in August to developing into a valuable weapon for this Panthers’ offense.