October 28, 2009 9:27:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- David Turner has benefited from relationships established during his coaching career.
One of those relationships helped him earn his first NCAA Division I job as a defensive ends coach at Kentucky in 1993.
The bonds continue to help him as the defensive line coach at Mississippi State.
Turner will return to Lexington, Ky., at 6 p.m. Saturday when Mississippi State plays at the Kentucky Wildcats (FOX SportsNet South).
MSU coach Dan Mullen said Turner''s ability to relate to people is one of his strengths. He said recruiting players like Pernell McPhee, Josh Boyd, and Fletcher Cox makes Turner a smart coach anyway, but he does a good job of getting to know the players once they get to campus.
"The off-the-field relationships are just as important as the ones on the field," Mullen said. "That''s where you''re going to develop that trust you have with your players. He coaches those guys hard on the field and on game day because they have that off-the-field relationship. They respond real well to him."
Defensive ends McPhee and Trevor Stigers said Turner is a father figure to all of the defensive linemen.
Turner''s teaching isn''t all about football, and it doesn''t end when the Bulldogs leave the practice field
"He makes sure we stay straight on everything," McPhee said.
McPhee said Turner''s social side comes out when he invites the players to his home for meals.
"When we get off the field, no matter how much he argues at us at practice, he treats us like normal people," McPhee said. "When we''re done at practice, he doesn''t say anything else about practice."
The friendships Turner formed with former coaches like Bill Curry and Mike Archer led to a pleasant experience at Kentucky from 1993-94.
Turner didn''t have to think long about joining Curry''s staff, being an assistant in the Southeastern Conference, and living in Lexington, Ky.
"It was a great opportunity," Turner said. "My family and I enjoyed our time there and made a lot of good friends. We still keep in touch with them.
"Coach Curry was highly thought of and is a great man. It was a great staff there with Mike Archer. I was at James Madison at the time when Mike was at the University of Virginia. When he took the defensive coordinator job (at Kentucky) and the defensive ends job came open, that was how I got in."
The opportunity at Kentucky led Turner to other schools in the SEC. He became the defensive line and recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt (2002-05) and was the defensive ends coach at the University of Alabama for one season (2006) before joining coach Sylvester Croom''s staff at MSU in 2007.
Turner was one of four assistants Mullen retained from Croom''s staff.
"I''m glad he kept him," Stigers said. "I can''t imagine playing for anyone other than coach Turner."
Turner has a mix of veterans and newcomers on the defensive line, and he believes his unit getting better each week. He likes the way McPhee, a junior college transfer from Itawamba Community College, and senior Kyle Love are playing.
"The guys continue to show up for work, study, learn, and are believing in the system," Turner said. "It''s a great group of guys, and I enjoy being around them every day, coaching them, and watching them progress."
n Notes: Turner was anxious to get senior defensive tackle Charles Burns back for the Kentucky game. Burns, who has been out with a knee injury, practiced Sunday, but missed Tuesday''s workout with the flu. ... Mullen said his reprimand handed down by the SEC on Tuesday for criticizing officials is history. "That''s over with and we''re moving on to Kentucky," Mullen said. ... Mullen said sophomore quarterback Chris Relf could see more action against Kentucky if he continues to practice well. Relf spoke to reporters for the first time since his two-game suspension for a unspecified violation of team rules. Relf wouldn''t comment on what led to the suspension. "I''ve got to make better decisions," Relf said. ... Junior kicker Sean Brauchle is finding more range as he works his way back into shape from a muscle strain. "One thing when you are dealing with a muscle, he feels good which probably means he''s a week away still to make sure he''s 100 percent healthy," Mullen said. "We need to make sure he doesn''t go out and irritate it more."
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