AUBURN, Ala. — Even when national signing day had concluded, Auburn never quit recruiting prospects for its 2014 class.
That's when the Tigers honed in on Joseph Turner. A cornerback at the College of San Mateo (Calif.), the three-star prospect was still uncommitted. Last fall, Turner signed with Washington State, where he had planned to enroll this spring. When he did not graduate in December, however, the Cougars gave Turner's spot to another player. Given the change in plans, Turner decided to reopen his recruitment.
And when Auburn came calling, he listened. He flew out to visit the campus on Feb. 10 and 11, and then committed on the 13th.
In a meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Gus Malzahn made his first public comments about the newest member of the Tigers, which brought the 2014 class to 24 signees.
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"He's a very talented young man that has the ability to play corner, play safety, good cover skills, can run," the coach said. "He is a guy that we feel like has a lot of potential."
Turner is one of six defensive backs in Auburn's 2014 recruiting haul. His signing took on added importance given the uncertain status of fellow cornerback Kalvaraz Bessent. A four-star prospect out of Georgia, Bessent was arrested Feb. 7 in Nassau County, Fla. He was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor stemming from drugs found after a traffic stop. The case against him was dropped Tuesday, as the state cited that there was "no evidence" to support the charges.
Regardless, Malzahn said Tuesday he had yet to make a decision on Bessent's future with the program.
"Nothing has changed," he said. "We are still gathering information, and once I make a decision I will let you know."
Even before Bessent's situation arose, Malzahn knew his team needed to address the secondary, which left thin last season after the unit was decimated by injuries.
In that vein, consider Turner's addition the newest part of the effort toward solving that issue.
"We had some flexibility and just feel like we need a little more depth with cover skills on the back end because we lost quite a few," Malzahn said.