In recognition of new Lion head coach Bailiff’s first Blue/Gold spring game, I’d like to reminisce on one of my memories from way back.
The year was 1989. I had participated in my first ever spring practices. In high school it was just off season workouts. I didn’t even know schools actually padded up in March. We were coming off an 8-3 campaign. We lost a few receivers to graduation and for the spring game had virtually no back ups on either side.
I was so excited for the chance to show what I could do. I had learned so much from my old teammate and mentor Jeff Dotie and couldn’t wait to put on a show.
Early in the game I ran a post route. As the ball came and I reached out to make a catch the defender gave me a shove that caused me to land awkwardly on my leg and my left knee had a weird stinging pain shoot thru it. Having never been injured prior to that I was a bit confused. What just happened? I ended up in the training room on a table only being able to listen to the announcers call of the game over the intercom.
My first thought was who was gonna replace me? There were no replacements. We only had 4 receivers in camp at that time. My fellow freshmen Brian Harp and Randy Osborne along with the great Gary Compton who had switched over from the TE position.
Didn’t take long to figure it out. My good friend and all time great defensive back Eric “ET” Turner was now playing both ways. He defended thousands of pass routes but was now out there running them…and running them well. He ended up with several catches including a TD in addition to his what would become normal defensive duties. I thought Coach Vowell may have kept him at WR with his performance but as we know he didn’t and Eric went on to have a Hall of Fame career…as a cornerback. Anyone who remembers that game would probably tell you that it could have very well been as a receiver also. Eric was a true technician of the game and had a super smart football IQ.
That game was a testament of more great things to come as well as a preview of injuries for the 89 season that temporarily derailed our success as the training room was at full capacity. Turns out it was a minor setback for the major comeback in the 1990 season. Invaluable experience was gained that prepared us for more future success. I’m hoping to see great things form this experienced group of Lions Saturday. #seeyouatthehawk