Returning Dominators: No. 4 Malik Turner

In this series, I’m breaking down the top-10 returning college wide receivers from 2016 by dominator rating (DR), using our FBS WR database.

If you’re unfamiliar with dominator rating, it’s a receiver’s combined market share for yardage and TDs. While it’s only one element in receiver evaluation – and requires age and experience adjustments to tell the full story – it provides an excellent snapshot of a player’s role in his offense.

Consider this an early look at potential rookies next year. Some of the names may surprise you. Coming in at No. 4 is Malik Turner.

WHO?

Turner is a 6-foot-3-inch, 205-pound wide receiver from Springfield, Illinois. He attended Sacred Heart-Griffin High School where he lettered all four years in football and basketball. As a senior, Turner converted 69 receptions for 1,378 yards and 22 touchdowns on the way to a 14-0 record and the IHSA Class 5A state championship. Turner also made noise as a sophomore and a junior as he was named All-Central State Eight first-team. He was named the Central State Eight Conference Player of the Year in 2013 and First-team IHSFCA All-State.

Turner was rated a three-star prospect by ESPN and the No. 38 overall player in Illinois. He attended Junior Day at the University of Illinois in January of 2013 and the Illini officially offered a scholarship. Ball State offered in May and he attended football camp at Purdue University one month later. The following week, Turner committed to Illinois and signed his letter of intent in February of 2014.

PRODUCTION

Turner is the second true freshman to see the field in a Power 5 conference in this series.1 He played in all 13 games and his 25 receptions were fourth most on the team. His 256 receiving yards (13 percent market share) were also fourth most, but he secured only one touchdown (four percent market share) for a nine percent dominator rating. He had six receptions against Lousiana Tech and Western Kentucky, with a season-high 84 yards against the Bulldogs. Scoreless for the majority of the season, Turner got on the board late in November against Northwestern in the penultimate game.

As a sophomore, Turner doubled his previous dominator rating from nine to 18 percent and hauled in the third-most receptions with 39. He trailed only current Green Bay Packer Geronimo Allison in receiving yards with 510 (17 percent market share) and tied for the team lead with three receiving TDs (19 percent market share). November was good to Turner once again as he put on a show against Minnesota with 11 catches for 126 yards and a TD.

With Allison in the NFL, Turner became the No. 1 option for the Illini as a junior. He led the team with 48 receptions for 712 yards (34 percent market share) and six TDs (46 percent market share). Turner more than doubled his dominator rating this time, improving to 40 percent, and closed out 2016 with 11 catches for 164 yards and two TDs in the final game against Northwestern. He was named to the All-Big Ten honorable mention team and academic All-Big Ten.

Year Class G Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Team Passing Team TDs MS Yards MS TD Dom
2014 Fr. 13 25 256 1 2047 25 0.13 0.04 0.09
2015 So. 11 39 510 3 2921 16 0.17 0.19 0.18
2016 Jr. 11 48 712 6 2095 13 0.34 0.46 0.4


2017

Turner entered 2017 as a Campbell Trophy semifinalist, given to the top football student-athlete in the country. After his breakout as a junior, his senior season has been derailed. His 27 catches are second on the team, but he’s managed only 289 yards (15 percent market share) and has failed to reach the end zone. Turner was injured against Purdue on November 4th and missed the following game against Indiana with an undisclosed injury. He’s listed as questionable this week as the Illini travel to “the Shoe” and face Ohio State.

It’s conceivable Turner is completely off the NFL draft radar and will have to make his way into the league as an undrafted free agent like Allison before him. However, his 40 percent dominator rating is superior to Allison’s college production. Turner is ranked as the No. 87 receiver on NFL Draft Scout and without an eye-catching combine or pro day performance will likely be overlooked despite a strong production profile.

  1. Along with No. 8, Steven Sims Jr  (back)