MASSILLON—It is no surprise that when a player has had stellar success playing midget league football, that success is bound to carry over to the junior high level and all the way to the high school level.
Along the way, there are people who will praise an athlete and tell them occasionally how good they are. But at the same time, there are others who will be out to trash an athlete for only intentions known to themselves. He might not be a hit on the stage of Broadway but this much can be said: Justin Turner is a hit on the stage inside Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Just nearly after two years in the Massillon program, Turner already has 30 touchdowns and 180 points scored. Last night, Turner recorded his first varsity 100-yard rushing game as he ran for 150 yards, his second highest since running for 168 in a freshman game against Akron Buchtel and recording 248 all-purpose yards while leading the Tigers to a 65-6 pasting of Cincinnati Western Hills.
There is one person who knows this fantastic marvel better than anyone else. Having grown up with Turner, it is safe to say that Massillon football and basketball standout Michael Porrini knows about being the hot commodity and the dangers of being anointed as such.
“I knew he was capable of having a breakout game tonight but at the same time, I know that he can do better. I push him a lot because I want him to be the best player he can be,” Porrini said.
“I told him it was his time to shine and he proved it to me tonight. I knew he was capable of having a breakout game.”
Breakout games are nothing new to Turner. As a freshman, he scored 17 touchdowns last season and nine of those were from 50 or more yards. But along the way, he had to endure harsh criticisms that were way off the mark more than a quarterback overthrowing his intended receiver.
There were so many negative claims out there about him and his demeanor towards the team and others. The details will be spared but no one knows about those better than Porrini, as he has endured his share of criticism.
But when it comes to the rumor mill, being Turner’s cousin, Porrini takes it personally. And unbeknownst to others, believe it or not, Porrini is an avid reader of Yappi.com, an Ohio sports-talk website and he sees what most radicals say on the site.
Never at a loss for words, he recalls at one point about how most of these individuals claimed that he was a crybaby, didn’t get along with head coach Matt Creamer, and one more claim about him and the possibility of transferring to GlenOak. To Porrini, fan websites are nothing but soap operas.
“I take that very personally when people make rumors about him because he is not a selfish person. He puts the team before himself and does whatever he has to do to help the team,” Porrini said.
“People will tear you down when they see that you are becoming the hot commodity and there are people out there who will do that. As the rumors about me, I laugh at those because I know they aren’t true.”
It might have been easy for Turner to brag about his evening. In fact, any player who might have had the game of their season may consider bragging. Not this phenomenon.
If anyone was in the Massillon locker room after the contest, they would have seen a modest individual giving credit where it is due the most and not hooting and hollering about what they did.
Not in the locker room where everyone is a family like the Massillon Tigers.
“It was big for me to have this game tonight but I didn’t know that I had gone over 100 yards rushing. Give credit to the offensive line as they were opening up holes for me and it was important for me to do my part with (Brian) Gamble out.”
“To rush for 150 as a sophomore is an accomplishment.”
Turner comes from a loving and strong family that always have talked to him about his future goals while getting better not just on the field, but off the field as well. He carries a proud 3.2 grade-point average and if anyone is around him, they will know that this is a young man who takes pride in his successes and acts like he has been there before.
Anyone who still thinks that Turner has the supposed cockiness, arrogance, and brashness that outsiders might have said of him in the past, including not caring about anyone but himself, this young 24-year-old writer would love nothing more to meet these persons with open arms and find out why.
Better yet, why don’t they come face-to-face with the relatives, family, and friends who know this super sophomore and have been around him? Sadly, it may never happen but this much can be said: Don’t be surprised if he has a hand in leading the Tigers next week against undefeated Canton McKinley.
And Porrini knows that Turner will do all that he can to ensure the Victory Bell will return to its place in Massillon.
“This is a big game coming up. He knows that he has a job to do and he is going to do it. There is one game left, just let it all hang out,” Porrini said.
Justin Turner might not be on the big stage status on Broadway but this much can be said for the next two years: he will be the main attraction on the Paul Brown Tiger Stadium stage.
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