One for the ages

by Staff

LEGENDARY LINEMAN: Kyle Turley leaves SDSU as an

All-American and perhaps the greatest of all time at his position.

Five years ago Kyle Turley was a 6-foot-4, 245-pound freshman playing defensive end on the San Diego State football team.

Well, a lot has happened since then.

Now five years older and 60 pounds heavier, Turley walks away from Montezuma Mesa not only as an All-American offensive tackle but as one of the greatest SDSU football players ever.

Turley’s stellar career as an Aztec came to a less-than-memorable end on Nov. 22 against Colorado State in front of a national television audience.

Following an SDSU turnover near the CSU goal line, teammate Jesus Reyes got into a shoving match with a Rams defender.

Enter Turley.

The 305-pound senior attempted to step between the two players and be the peacemaker but ended up in a shoving match of his own with the same CSU player. It was a shoving match that consisted of just one shove, by Turley. The CSU defender hit the ground, the referee threw his flag and Turley hit the showers.

“That’s the way Kyle is,” said Ephraim Salaam, who’s played alongside Turley for four years on the offensive line. “He’s always there for you out on the field, and he’s always playing his hardest.”

Afterward in the locker room, Turley reflected on the thought that he had played his last game ever in an Aztecs uniform. While he thought about several memories during his career, one thought remained constant.

“I don’t believe I should have been thrown out of that game,” Turley said. “The referees in this conference don’t want the players to play the game the way it was meant to be played.”

Turley’s game is power football ? just run it right at them and see if their guys can stop your guys. It’s a style of play that he has excelled in not only this season, but throughout his football career at SDSU.

This year the National Football League-bound Turley had one of the best seasons ever for an Aztecs offensive lineman. He was one of the few bright spots on an offensive unit that struggled all season.

He was there all year, starting all 11 games for SDSU and extending his consecutive-games-starting streak to 37. In all, Turley has started 41 of the last 45 games for the Aztecs.

Throughout the season he had his bright spots, games that stood out over the rest.

Like his showdown with fellow All-American Jason Chorak in which the University of Washington outside linebacker was held in check by Turley all day.

“I like going up against the best, and Chorak certainly is one of the best in the country,” Turley said.

While that game had to be one of Turley’s best after handling Chorak, it was during the Fresno State game, where he outweighed each of the opposing defensive linemen, that he had the most fun.

The offensive tackle was in his ideal environment against the Bulldogs. Turley couldn’t have asked for a better set of circumstances.

Not only did SDSU head coach Ted Tollner elect to run the ball the majority of the game, but it was raining and the field was muddy.

“It was fun, real fun ? that’s the way I like to play football,” Turley said. “That was one of the team’s best games and the game I might have had the most fun playing in this year.”

The 6-foot-6 offensive tackle had a lot of fun this season. With the kind of recognition he received, why wouldn’t he?

Turley garnered just about every possible accolade an offensive lineman could get. The native of Moreno Valley, Calif., earned first-team All-American honors by The Sporting News and the American Football Coaches Association, as well as first-team recognition by Football News and Football Writers Association of America.

“It’s a real honor to receive the kind of recognition that I have,” Turley said. “I worked hard all season, and I feel like I deserve this after all the time I’ve put in.”

While it may sound hard to believe, Turley actually received more accolades. He was a semi-finalist for both the Lombardi and Outland trophies, both given to the top lineman in the country. And recently, Turley was named second-team All-American by the Associated Press.

The recognition he’s received is the second-most ever by an Aztec, trailing only running back Marshall Faulk.

“I’m really pleased with the way I played this season,” Turley said of his final season at SDSU. “I’ve had a lot of good times playing here.”