Scott Turner was an offensive analyst at Michigan when the Wolverines squared off with Ohio State on Nov. 25, 2017.
He remembers Ohio State trailing, 20-14, and having to turn to then-redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. because of an injury. He then remembers Haskins orchestrating back-to-back scoring drives, giving the Buckeyes back the lead in an eventual 31-20 victory. In just a quarter-and-a-half of game action, Haskins completed six of his seven passes for 94 yards and added 24 more on the ground.
"J.T. Barrett got hurt, he came in the game and got a big third-down conversion, tying the game and then they ended up beating us. He finished that game. It was a big performance for him, obviously in a rivalry game."
Turner, now the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, recounted the story on Wednesday to Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael on "Redskins Nation." In joining head coach Ron Rivera in Washington, Turner will be in charge of running the offense led by Haskins, the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. It's an opportunity Turner is excited about and ready for, especially considering he'll work closely with the player who grabbed his attention a few years ago.
"We really liked him coming out of Ohio State, so I was able to study him as a quarterback coach," said Turner, who spent the past two seasons in Carolina. "Got to spend a little time with him, really liked his personality."
Turner enters his first full season as an offensive coordinator, but he has plenty of experience grooming young quarterbacks.
His first job in the NFL was as an offensive quality control coach for the Panthers in 2011, the same year Rivera became the head coach and the franchise drafted quarterback Cam Newton No. 1 overall. Newton went on to become the offensive Rookie of the Year and made the first of his three Pro Bowl appearances.
Turner assumed the same role for the Vikings from 2014-16, working closely with a pair of former first round picks: Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. Under Turner's tutelage, Bridgewater turned in one of the best seasons by a rookie quarterback in franchise history in 2014 and made his only Pro Bowl in 2015. The next season, Bradford set a then-NFL record in completion percentage (71.6) while setting multiple Vikings' records.
Now with the Redskins -- the same place his father, Norv Turner, served as the head coach from 1994-2000 -- Turner will guide another talented signal-caller in Haskins, who came on strong towards the end of his rookie campaign. Over his final three halves, Haskins completed 72.1 percent of his passes for 394 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. An ankle injury in Week 16 halted Haskins' late-season momentum, but there was proof he could thrive as an NFL quarterback.
When developing young quarterbacks, Turner emphasized the importance of establishing relationships. To best teach these players, he must first understand how they learn, what they excel at and where they can improve. Then, he can devise an individualized approach to expedite growth and maximize potential.
For example, Turner and the Panthers knew that Newton is a visual learner. So, when Turner returned to Carolina as the quarterbacks coach in 2018, he recommended Newton use a notebook to store everything he'd been scribbling throughout the quarterbacks room at Bank of America Stadium. The notebook evolved into a binder, and it was a big reason Newton played so well early in 2018 before injuries hindered his production.
"There's no greater feeling than knowing you've got somebody that is coaching you that has your best interest in mind," Newton told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer in September. "That's important. I've been lucky to have guys that have coached me where I can sense that, and I know that. I've never not known. And Scott [Turner] is just still one of those people I know I can go to him for brutally honest advice, and that's the key."
Things will be a little different in Washington than they were when Turner was with the Panthers and Vikings. As a first-time offensive coordinator, Turner will not be singularly focused on Haskins; he'll have to introduce a system conducive to all the young pieces on that side of the ball.
But by getting to know Haskins, Turner will be able to cater his scheme to best fit Haskins' skillset, which wowed NFL evaluators coming out of Ohio State.
In Washington, it's a partnership that will go a long way towards determining the franchise's success going forward.
"Sometimes change is all right and is good," Haskins said during locker room cleanout ahead of Rivera's hiring. "I am excited to have an opportunity to continue to learn here and grow with this organization. I am grateful for the opportunity."