Steve Sarkisian’s 2022 recruiting class is taking its final shape. While the talented offensive mind has done an exceptional job at landing talented offensive linemen as of late, the defense needed some love too. Texas, say hello to Larry Turner-Gooden.
Turner-Gooden is a talented safety who many thought was off the recruiting boards when he first committed to Arizona State back in February of this year. However, a change of heart happened and the safety re-opened his recruitment at the end of September. Since then, he’s visited Arizona State again, along with Colorado, Maryland, and Texas. After all of those visits, Turner-Gooden decided to leave California in order to join the great class that Steve Sarkisian is growing in Austin.
Turner-Gooden is a talented safety prospect from Mission Hills, California which is just on the northern outskirts of Los Angeles. He’s a four-star prospect via the 247Sports Composite and is currently listed as the 15th ranked safety in his class along with the 13th ranked recruit overall in the state of California. Considering how many elite-level players come from California, this is a massive signing for the Longhorns.
The four-star has done it all on the football field, getting in reps at defensive back as well as a wide receiver. However, Turner-Gooden is projected to play safety at the next level. This is a major position of need for the Longhorns as all of their starting defensive backs were upperclassmen.
Name: Larry Turner-Gooden
High School: Bishop Alemany
City, State: Mission Hills, CA
Three Best Traits
Versatility - Turner-Gooden did it all in his high school career. He primarily played safety but he’s lined up as a cornerback, wide receiver and even a running back at times. I like this as it gives him a new perspective on the position. By personally playing other positions on the field he has a better understanding of how to properly play the safety position.
Coverage - Turner-Gooden has elite ball skills. He is at his best when he can play almost like a center fielder. Once he can see the entirety of the field as well as the quarterbacks’ eyes, that’s when he is at his peak. He can sit back and take away the deep ball, he can meet the top receiver underneath to force an incompletion or a minimal gain. He’s a safety with special ball skills in the back end.
Special Teams - As if playing defense and offense wasn’t enough, he’s also a great return man. Turner-Gooden served as the main kickoff returner as well as punt returner for his high school team since he was a sophomore. Opposing kickers and punters are better off kicking it through the end zone because if he touches the ball he will get the maximum amount of yards every single time.
Areas of Improvement
Run Support - Turner-Gooden is good in run support from what I can tell, however it is one area for him to improve on. He’s mainly the deep man trying to stop the big pass play. More reps in the run support game can really take his game to the next level.
Injury Concerns/ Lack of Playing - After an electrifying sophomore campaign, Turner-Gooden hasn’t seen much playing time since. Being in California, he was robbed of most of his junior season from COVID-19. That was then followed up by a senior season in which he only played a handful of games due to injury. Anytime a player misses some time due to injury it’s concerning but hopefully this was just a one-time incident rather than the start of many.
The California native is a major commitment for the 2022 class. He can do almost anything asked of him on the football field as he has experience in all three phases of the game. He’s a true center-fielder though and he is a ball hawk defensively, yet excels in the special teams return game. Arizona State’s huge loss is Texas' massive gain.
This is the second 2022 commit Texas has landed from California as Turner-Gooden joins Junipero Serra and state champion quarterback Maalik Murphy. He also becomes the 15th commit on the defensive side. He joins seven defensive linemen, a pair of linebackers, and four other defensive backs including two other safeties. It was apparent through the regular season that defense was an area of concern for Texas. This staff has done a solid job at reloading on that side of the ball. If these talents can develop properly, the Longhorns could be in for big things from Pete Kwiatkowski's unit.