Only now are the rewards finally being realized, all of that work on the football field and on the stage raising him up for all to see.

Terrance Turner is a football player first at Indiana. He's one of several inviting receiving targets for the wide-open, pass-happy offense preferred by coach Bill Lynch.

But Turner, a redshirt junior, also is an actor, a former business major turned theater and drama student.

Certainly, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder will be a focal point on Saturday when the Hoosiers come to Beaver Stadium and try to put an end to all of their close-call losses. Turner already has 35 receptions this season, six just last week.

But it goes much deeper than that.

Terrance Turner balanced two significant roles in university plays with football practice.
Terrance Turner balanced two significant roles in university plays with football practice. (Courtesy of Indiana)

"This almost never happens, that jocks are also theater people," said Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe, an assistant professor who has directed Turner in two university plays. "They were enemies from kindergarten, the jocks and the theater guys. It's like the tough boys and the sissies."

And yet, "both (endeavors) are disciplines and disciplines in the same way. There's physical and mental agility and stamina and also teamwork. The principles in sports and ensemble theater acting are the same."

It all started for Turner in high school, maybe his sophomore year, when he took a drama class and something resonated. He never acted in a school play, though.

Rather, his desire smoldered, burning a little hotter all the time. Not too long after he arrived in Bloomington, Ind., more than three years ago he dumped his business studies and changed his life.

"I thought if I'm going to be here, I should go with what I really want."

"It's exciting," he said of getting on the stage. "I can be different characters. It's always something new every day. It challenges you and only you."

To really understand the dichotomy, look to this past spring.

Terrance Turner
Terrance Turner (Courtesy of Indiana)

Turner worked out with the football team for two hours or so each day -- then left practice early to make it to four-hour theater rehearsals. He has had significant roles in two university productions, a comedy and a drama.

His head coach even checked him out one evening after practice.

"It was a very serious drama with a lot of people attending, night after night after night," Lynch said. "I was thinking, 'What would happen if he would have got hurt at spring practice that day? What would have happened to the play?'"

As for Turner's performance, "very good," Lynch said. "Obviously I'm not an established critic by any means, but I thought he was pretty good."

Time management was essential to making it through that crazy spring, especially considering that Turner is a top-grade student in all of his classes.

Patience have been critical, too -- in his drama career and on the football field. Consider that Turner's first college touchdown (a 99-yarder, by the way) was wiped out because of an offensive holding penalty last year.

And just a couple of weeks ago he had two more apparent scores disallowed by officials, one that was ruled a touchdown before being overturned on review.

Football season has kept him out of a third university play, but he still has next year.

"Terrance is so smart as an actor, one of the most intelligent actors I've ever met," said Cooper-Anifowoshe. "Terrance is really savvy about getting at the politics being satirized underneath everything."

And only now is he starting to master his comic abilities, especially his physical comedy.

"He really reminds me of Jerry Lewis," said Cooper-Anifowoshe. "His comic talents, you can't teach timing like that. He just has it inherently."

She believes Turner has a professional future in the business, "if he wants it."

And he does hope to move to California one day and pursue some type of career in film. For now, though, football still takes priority.

Scoring a touchdown or getting a standing ovation?

"I'd go with the touchdown," Turner said. "Just having my team and being able to help those guys out. ... And it's a bigger stage."

At least it is for now.
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