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Turner returns to MSU coaching staff as defensive line coach


Matthew Stevens



STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State University football coach Dan Mullen went with a person he knows can succeed to fill one of his two current staff openings. He's already seen him do it before for him in Starkville. 


The MSU football program announced via Twitter of his spokesperson Joe Galbraith Wednesday morning the hiring of David Turner as the school's defensive line coach to replace the departed Chris Wilson. 


Turner was in charge of the defensive line at MSU from 2007-09 after being initially hired by Sylvester Croom in 2007 and then being one of the few coaches kept by Dan Mullen when arrived for his first season in Starkville. 


Former University of Minnesota defensive line coach Tim Cross and current University of Texas defensive tackles coach Bo Davis were also named as candidates for the opening as well. 


Turner has spent the last three seasons at University of Kentucky as the defensive line coach and assistant head coach under Joker Phillips before it was announced everybody would be fired on the Wildcats staff before the end of the 2012 football season. 


Turner has 27 years of coaching experience, including 13 years at four Southeastern Conference schools. He has also worked at Vanderbilt University (2002-05) and the University of Alabama (2006). 


In a bit of irony, Turner replaces Chris Wilson, who left Starkville for the defensive line coach spot at the University of Georgia, as Wilson was brought in immediately after Turner packed his bags for Lexington to coach at UK. Turner was also named as a serious candidate for the Georgia job that Wilson was given this week. 


"The University of Georgia, since I've been coaching, is one of the top five programs in the country," Wilson told the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald. "Secondly, coach (Mark) Richt is one of the best coaches in the business, just all around. I've been fortunate to work for some really good guys the last few years and he ranks right up there with them." 


In his first season at MSU, he helped the Bulldogs to their first postseason appearance in seven years, a victory in the 2007 AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Three of his linemen, second-team All-SEC performer Titus Brown, Jesse Bowman and Cortez McCraney, went on to sign NFL contracts. Turner had another All-SEC honoree in 200 with Pernell McPhee, and a freshman All-SEC player in Fletcher Cox, who was taken as a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL?Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. 


Turner is expected to arrive in Starkville Friday as the school is unable to officially confirm his hiring until it is approved by the state of Mississippi Board of Higher Learning trustees. He is known throughout the coaching ranks as a stellar recruiter as even Vanderbilt had a significant upgrade in talent level during Turner's term as recruiting coordinator. Turner is credited with helping bring in a majority of the players for the Commodores' eventual Music City Bowl championship in 2008. 


Mullen and the MSU football staff still need to fill the final vacancy left by cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith when he left Starkville on Christmas Day for the same position at Auburn University under new head coach Gus Malzahn. reported Wednesday that University of Nebraska defensive backs coach Terry Joseph and National Football League assistant Deshea Townsend are the top names for that open coaching slot on the MSU staff. Joseph, who is a former assistant under Derek Dooley at both the University of Tennessee and Louisiana Tech University, was a part in the nation's fourth-best pass defense this past season with the Cornhuskers. 


Townsend is a Batesville native who played at the University of Alabama and for 12 seasons in the NFL after starring at South Panola High School, where he won a state championship in 1993. Townsend was part of the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff in the NFL but his current status is unknown until the Arizona franchise executives hire a head coach to replace the recently fired Ken Whisenhunt. 


It was speculated Mullen may look elsewhere position wise to fill Smith's spot but the candidates reportedly interested and having had communication with MSU officials already are primarily experienced with coaching defensive backfields. 


"There's still a lot of options out there," Mullen said on Dec. 27. "Absolutely we could leave (MSU safeties coach) Tony (Hughes) as a secondary coach."



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