Carolina Panthers

Landon Turner commands attention at UNC’s pro day

North Carolina offensive lineman Landon Turner.
North Carolina offensive lineman Landon Turner. rwillett@newsobserver.com

For nearly 15 minutes Tuesday, former North Carolina offensive lineman Landon Turner was the only Tar Heel performing at the school’s pro day.

Turner, being worked out by New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, did several drills in front of more than 30 scouts representing 26 NFL teams. The 13 other Tar Heels performing at pro day were left to stretch or rest as all eyes were on Turner.

A little nervous?

“Well, I guess so. I didn’t really think of it too much that way,” Turner said. “It’s my job. It’s what I do. I’m not going to let some outside force affect me. Yeah, I was nervous a little bit but more because I wanted to do the position drills correctly and follow directions and put on a good show.

“I’ve played in some stadiums before.”

Turner moved well in the drills, though he didn’t run in the 40-yard dash because of a lingering hamstring strain from the combine. Checking in at nearly 6-foot-5 and 327 pounds, Turner looked every bit the part of an NFL guard.

But it was also clear he needs to improve his conditioning. That could be due in part to the hamstring pull that occurred on his 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, but also to his sheer size.

Turner weighed in at 13 pounds heavier than the average offensive guard at last month’s NFL combine. He trained for two months in San Diego turning his fat into muscle, and he still has some room for improvement.

“My body composition was the No. 1 thing,” Turner said. “Weight was always an issue for people with me, so being able to move and losing weight is hand-in-hand for me. I was focusing on my body, getting lean, feeling good about moving around. It’s something I have to continue working out.

“It’s the first time I’ve done position drills in a while. They put me through the ringer. I can always work on conditioning. That’s going to be a big focus for me.”

Turner is projected to be a mid-round selection next month. He could go as high as the third round, but he’s more likely to be a fourth- or fifth-rounder. Turner said he only has one visit set up currently, and that’s April 4 with the Saints.

Not only did he stand out for his size Tuesday but also for his shoes. For his 20-yard shuttle, Turner wore new Nike cleats. The left shoe was blue and the right was orange, and he was told that’s the way they came.

Flashy isn’t really his style, but whatever works, right?

“I was way out of my wheelhouse on that one. I went out on a limb,” Turner said. “Maybe they’ll remember it better: The guy with two different shoes. ‘Maybe we should pick him up.’ 

Morris blazes: UNC running back Romar Morris blew scouts away with his 4.35-second 40-yard dash, the fastest of the day for the 14 participants.

Morris, a Salisbury native, trained with Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson in Texas for two months to get ready for pro day.

“One of the other goals I had (during the season) was to stay healthy,” Morris said. “I knew if I stayed healthy I’d have a great chance at this. If I could come out of the season as healthy as possible, I’d go somewhere and train for two months because I’m one of the hardest working people.

“He (Johnson) is not a football guy, but as far as speed goes he knows everything.”

Morris came to UNC as one of the top-30 running backs in the country but saw his production fall off each season with the Tar Heels. He had just 19 touches for 120 yards last season.

So as quickly as he ran Tuesday, there’s still the issue of him not having a lot of recent film.

“I don’t know if the coaches thought I was capable or not, but I knew I was,” Morris said. “I don’t mean to put that on the coaches. They’re a great staff, a great team and a great university. But I felt I could have produced more for the team over the last few seasons but it’s just the way the ball bounces. You’re not that guy. But I feel like I came out here and did what I had to do.”

His 40 time, which drew positive reactions from several scouts, along with his pass-catching ability shown in drills with quarterback Marquise Williams, will help him in the process.

“What’s shocking everybody is they didn’t know he was that fast,” Williams said. “He’s always been that fast. I think he used to chase cheetahs back in the day but he won’t tell me the truth.”

Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9

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