South Carolina Gamecocks offensive lineman Jazston Turnetine talks playing left tackle, transition to SEC
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Turnetine talks playing left tackle, transition to SEC

Being 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds can be both a good and bad thing for Jazston Turnetine.

The good? His sheer size helped in part grab the attention of South Carolina’s coaching staff and is playing SEC football now. The bad? He might struggle or take longer to do some things smaller people can do easily, or “little people things” as he calls them.

So, when he came back to campus after months off before the start of last season, it was a challenge to get him back into game shape.

Photo by Chris Gillespie
Photo by Chris Gillespie

“I felt like I was a lot slower and weaker,” he said Thursday. “It was like hitting a restart button. It was like that for everybody, but for me especially. I had to hit restart and climb back to the top.”

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Turnetine, who was penciled in as the Gamecocks’ starting left tackle last spring before COVID-19 shut things down, struggled with consistency and it impacted his playing time.

He didn’t start at to begin the year and ultimately played in six games with three starts as he tried to transition from JUCO football to the SEC.

All of his starts came at left tackle with a Pro Football Focus grade of 45 with a 49 run block grade and 33.2 pass block grade.

“JUCO football was just like, ‘You see him, go hit him.’ When I got here, it’s like ‘You see him but you have to block him this way and have to make sure you hit your landmark, make sure you have the proper stance, proper alignment,’” he said. “It’s more about the technicality standpoint. There’s a big difference, that’s all I know. It’s a major difference.”

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Now, a year into his time at South Carolina, Turnetine is back working at left tackle under a new coach in Greg Adkins.

“So far it’s been great. It’s a different world with him. If you fail, he doesn’t want you to instantly fail and say like, ‘Get out man.’ When you fail you have room and time to practice,” he said. “You have time to fix your errors. It’s a very positive environment with him. He always suggests new things and new theories to try. There’s more than one way to do things. I really like that about him so far.”

The Gamecocks are just a few practices in this spring with Turnetine working exclusively at left tackle right now with the potential to be tried out at either guard or right tackle later on in practice.

“He’s a work in progress. I think we all want him to be the best he can be and I think it’s a daily process with him,” Adkins said earlier in the week. “That comes with a certain responsibility at playing that position. He’s working there right now. He’s made some progress. In fact, I thought today was his best practice of the four. That’s a good thing.”

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Turnetine is one of a handful of players returning on the offensive line that has started multiple games in his career and one of the many Adkins said is testing out at left tackle.

Adkins said along with Turnetine almost every other offensive lineman outside of about three or four have tackle at least one rep at left tackle this spring as the Gamecocks try to solidify one of the most important spots offensively.

“It’s always a bunch of pressure. Coming over from playing right tackle, everything seemed so easy. I’m not saying it’s easy but it was easier to understand and easier to comprehend. You see things better,” Turnetine said of the left tackle spot.

“Then when I moved to left, everything was fast. You have to move fast, you have to be urgent, you have to read, you have to see, you have to communicate and let everyone know what’s going on. It’s like a different world at left tackle. Everything’s so fast and there’s so much pressure.”