Free State High School in Lawrence, Kansas, doesn’t have football talent like four-star offensive tackle Turner Corcoran play in its green and silver often. Corcoran, who is rated as the No. 31 player in the 2020 class according to 247Sports’ composite rating, has only been followed by a few players that made a blip on the national recruiting radar.
Before Corcoran, the most successful player that played for Free State was then-tight end Christian Ballard, who was rated amongst the top-100 in his class and eventually played defensive tackle for Iowa and then for the Minnesota Vikings for one season in 2012.
After Ballard, it was three-star offensive tackle Jalan Robinson, who signed with Kansas in the 2018 class. Lawrence High School, across town rom Free State, sent four-star defensive end Amani Bledsoe to Oklahoma in 2016.
But Corcoran’s ratings as No. 31 in the class, No. 3 offensive tackle in the class and No. 1 recruit out of Kansas exceed the limits previous prospects had exemplified for Lawrence football players.
“On the field, he is what I like to call a 'dog,'” Free State assistant coach Taylor Stuart said. “He gets after it. He’s tough. He’s physical. He likes to show the guys on the defensive side of the ball that he’s the most aggressive guy on the field, and he’s going to dominate the line the entire time. We’ve called him a ‘one in a million.’ We haven’t had a kid like that in quite a while, if ever.”
Corcoran’s approach to his recruitment is nearly as unusual as the tackle is to Lawrence football. The high school junior has accrued 17 offers, but players of his caliber tend to develop lists that climb above 40. That’s too much for a high school-aged player to juggle while also picking the correct school, Corcoran said, so he narrowed it down to seven schools as quickly as he could.
In August 2018, he announced via Twitter that he would be focusing on seven schools — Notre Dame, Kansas State, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Ohio State.
He didn’t start a clock, and he didn’t apply pressure to choose from those seven schools when he created a list, he said. It was just a matter of simplifying the process.
“It’s easier to talk to schools and be like, ‘Hey, I’m not interested anymore. I just don’t want to waste your time and I don’t want to waste my time,’” Corcoran said. “I just wanted to narrow it down to those schools because I’d built good relationships going on visits and stuff. It was in my best interest that I get it narrowed down sooner rather than later.”
Next Step... pic.twitter.com/FUZPJlHCu5— Turner Corcoran (@turnercorcoran) August 3, 2018
Ohio State was one of Corcoran’s first few offers of his recruitment process. He received his fifth offer from the Buckeyes in April 2018 and made his way to Columbus on an unofficial visit the following June.
That June visit was the budding of a relationship that continues to this day, as Corcoran said he has consistently spoken with head coach Ryan Day, director of player personnel Mark Pantoni, running backs coach Tony Alford and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson weekly since his visit.
He isn’t close to a commitment yet, he said. That will come as early as this summer and as late as mid-football season. Corcoran also plans to visit Ohio State for the Spring Game on April 13.
“Just being recognized by a program like that,” Corcoran said about his Ohio State offer. “Their staff said, ‘This sophomore in Lawrence, Kansas, is good enough to come play for us. Why not take a chance on him?’ It really opened up my eyes like, ‘Wow, this is really something else.’”
Free State has a student population of 1,825 in a town of 96,892 people. Getting recognized in Kansas can be difficult. Even Ben Powers out of western Kansas, who is entering the 2019 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma, needed to play a year in JUCO ball because he wasn’t recruited much in 2016. Corcoran said he recognizes what kind of pressure can build when nationally touted programs knock on a Kansas player’s door.
Just walking around in stores around Lawrence, Corcoran said he will be approached by strangers wanting to shake his hand and strike up a conversation. They always finish with “Go Cats!” “Go Jayhawks!” or “Go Buckeyes!”, whichever team they favor of the seven.
Corcoran said he doesn’t know exactly why he was recognized before other players in his area. He has a hunch that maybe, while watching Jalan Robinson’s tape, they caught a glimpse of Corcoran on the opposite side of the line and thought to follow up on him. Whatever it was, he said he’s grateful for it.
“I’m just glad I was able to get recruited early,” he said. “I’ve got a few teammates who are struggling to pick up offers. I know how hard they work and how hard they play. Some kids are struggling to pull a single hat on signing day. It’ll be something special to represent this town and this state and being able to say, ‘Don’t count Kansas kids out.’”