WPIAL Alum Q&A – Jawan Turner

Thursday, December 1, 2016 | 10:26 AM

When George Novak retired as the football coach at Woodland Hills earlier this month, he left a legacy of helping hundreds of players continue their careers at the college level. One of Novak’s success stories is Jawan Turner, a standout defensive lineman at California University of Pennsylvania. Turner, who has been instrumental in the Vulcans undefeated season, is the focus of this week’s WPIAL Alum Q&A.

While at Woodland Hills, Turner was a key member of two teams that made it to the WPIAL Championship. As a sophomore in 2010, Turner and the Wolverines finished 9-4, falling to North Allegheny at Heinz Field. The following campaign, the team qualified for the postseason, but fell in the first round. In 2012, Woodland Hills compiled a mark of 10-3, including another narrow defeat at the hands of the Tigers with the title on the line.

That 2012 campaign was not only special for the team, but for Turner individually. He recorded a team-record 22 sacks, including three against North Allegheny in the Quad-A Championship. For his play with the Wolverines, Turner was twice named an All-Conference performer, and also earned First-Team All-State accolades.

He continued his career at Cal U in 2013, playing in 10 games as a true freshman. The Vulcans achieved a 7-4 record, including 4-3 in conference play.

The following year, Turner exploded onto the scene, as he recorded 43 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and eight sacks, leading the Vulcans in the latter two categories. His tremendous play earned him All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West First-Team recognition, and he was also named Third-Team All-Region. Meanwhile, the team improved to a record of 8-2.

Although Turner’s numbers took a slight hit in 2015, he and the Vulcans continued to play at a high level. He accounted for 46 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss in 10 contests, and was selected to the All-PSAC West Second-Team. Meanwhile, Cal U matched its win total from the previous year, going 8-3.

Turner’s senior season has arguably been his finest individually, and certainly has been the best team performance during his tenure. Through 11 games, Turner has notched 43 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Perhaps most impressively, he’s forced four fumbles, and also has recovered three fumbles, two of which he took for touchdowns. Consequently, he again was named to the All-PSAC West First-Team.

Turner’s campaign is not done, though, as the Vulcans have amassed a perfect 11-0 mark. Cal U captured the conference championship with a dominant win against Kutztown and followed that up with a victory against IUP last weekend. The Vulcans will have a third-round matchup at home against Shepherd this Saturday.

Despite the looming playoff contest, Jawan took time from his preparation to answer what his favorite pass-rush move is, which person he’d most like to meet, and his best memories of coach George Novak.

Q: You’ve had a few big seasons in terms of QB sacks. What is your pass rush technique that has allowed you to produce that success?

A: Most times, my rush depends on the play call and tendencies of my opponent, but my favorite move personally would be a jab/head fake with a double-hand swipe. I also like the spin move.

Q: How have you grown as a player during your career at Cal U?

A: I have grown all around as a player and as a person since I came to Cal, but in the sense of a football player, I have gotten smarter. My football IQ has grown and my understanding of the game has increased all around.

Q: What is the hardest part of playing on the defensive line?

A: Taking on double teams can be challenging because of the size difference, but I am usually quicker than most offensive linemen, so I use it to my advantage.

Q: As a senior, have you been a leader this season, either on or off the field? If so, has that always come naturally or did you have to develop that?

A: I like to think my leadership ability comes naturally, but also grows everyday with things I learn from others. I lead by example with my work ethic and energy. I know being a leader comes with responsibility, and I have always accepted that challenge.

Q: Did you set any individual goals in 2016?

A: I wanted to make all-conference (achieved) and all-region (TBA) and be named an All-American (TBA), but most importantly I just wanted to help the team win the PSAC and make a playoff run.

Q: What led to your decision to continue your athletic and academic careers at Cal U?

A: In the end, [special teams/wide receivers] Coach [Larry] Wilson, who recruited me, was the coach I felt most comfortable with, along with the university. He played a big part in my decision, and has played a huge part in my career here.

Q: What is your major, and ideal future profession?

A: I am a Communication Studies major, and I would like to coach when it is all said and done.

Q: Woodland Hills has a football tradition nearly unmatched in the WPIAL. What was it like being part of that program?

A: It was a blessing being able to be a part of such a prestigious program. The program Coach Novak has developed at Woodland Hills is the best of the best. Going through that program allowed me to transition into college smoothly. I take pride in carrying on the tradition of hard work learned there. Woodland Hills left me with a motto which I apply to everyday life … “To achieve you must endure.”

Q: What was your best high school memory?

A: Although I have many from all my years there, my favorite would have to be beating Mt. Lebanon my sophomore year in overtime to go to Heinz Field. Also playing at Heinz Field my senior year was unforgettable, as well.

Q: Longtime Wolverines coach George Novak just recently retired. What’s your thoughts on his retirement, and what will you remember most about him?

A: Coach Novak is a very influential and inspirational person in my life personally. Coach Novak is the definition of a living legend. I know Coach Novak was dedicated to every single kid that went through that program as if they were all his own. He loved and respected all his players and coaches. I was surprised to hear he retired, but at the same time, I think coach will be able to sit back and look at all he has done for our community and be proud. The love and respect he has is remarkable. He and the 26 wham will be greatly missed by all of us!

Q: What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t practicing or playing football?

A: Good question! It feels like I am always doing something football related, such as weights, practice or film. If I am not doing one of those, I am probably sleeping or watching a TV series (currently watching The Flash) or relaxing.

Q: If you could meet any person in the world, who would you pick?

A: This is a tough question, but I would have to go with Barack Obama

Q: What is your favorite song or musician?

A: Favorite song: 03 Adolescence; Favorite hip hop artist: J. Cole; Favorite R&B: Alicia Keys

Q: What is the best advice you would give to a high-school athlete hoping to continue a career in college?

A: I would say a few things … 1. Never quit. 2. You control your attitude and effort! 3. Work hard and BE COACHABLE!


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