By Julian Paras
There’s a new fan favorite on the Arizona State football team and it’s not a freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels or even star running back Eno Benjamin: it’s punter Michael Turk.
Turk, a redshirt sophomore from Dallas whose uncle is long-time NFL punter Matt Turk, originally started his career at Lafayette College where he recorded over 2,800 yards punting averaging around 43 yards per attempt. This fall he’s off to a solid start through his three games as a Sun Devil. Turk has notched 841 yards on 17 total punt attempts.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” said Turk after practice Tuesday. “I feel like I’ve gotten better for my time here too, so just trying to make the most of it.”
To put this in perspective on a national scale is very simple – he’s third among NCAA Division I punter in the country when it comes to punt per average (49.5). Turk is within two yards of being number one.
“Punting is not like a linebacker or a running back, it’s very technical,” Turk added when asked what his mindset is when he hits the field, “The mindset is just stay to my technique.”
Not only has he shown consistency as a player who can flip the field, but he would also be besting every punter in the NFL in total yards, punt per average and net average. The NFL leader in yards right now is J.K. Scott (809) for the Green Bay Packers.
Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum said Turk is “a very talented young man,” who’s learning to be an influential player that “can affect the game.”
Broke NCAA punting record ➡️ Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) September 3, 2019
“His numbers in the first game [of the season] had never been done before,” said Slocum.”
Slocum added that although Turk didn’t perform like that against Michigan State, he believes it’s a learning experience that can be used to improve.
Turk was humbled to hear that. He said that the stats are great, but his focus lies on football while referencing coach Herm Edwards’ vision for the team.
— Michael Turk (@MichaelMPTurk) May 21, 2019
“Like Coach Herm says, ‘Be humble and hungry,’ and it’s a long season. I don’t think I can just hang my hat on the stats right now.”
The NFL and college differentiate in more ways than one. It could simply be luck that Turk has found himself in but the numbers speak for themselves, and he’s made a name for himself at Arizona State while performing with consistency through three games of the season.
Turk said that he’s done his part for the Sun Devils, “If I can flip the field for our team or make the opposing offense start in a bad field position.”
Turk is also listed 14th on the ASU all-time punting list. If he keeps up the productivity that he’s shown, he could find himself in the Top 5 list at the end of his college career.
The Devils’ next matchup is against the Colorado Buffs on Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:00.