Zach Turnure came to Ohio State in the fall of 2013 as one of the best lacrosse players in the country.
As a senior in high school, he was named a U.S. Lacrosse High School All-American as a defender for Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis. He was offered and accepted a scholarship to play lacrosse at Ohio State, but during his freshman season, he appeared in just one game for the Buckeyes.
In addition to being a standout player on the lacrosse field, Turnure also impressed on the football field in high school. As a senior, he was an all-state performer in addition to being named his league's defensive player of the year. Even though he was on scholarship with Nick Myers' team, Turnure felt the itch to play football again and gave up his scholarship to walk-on to the 2014 Ohio State football team.
“It was a personal thing. I love both sports and I played both sports my whole life," Turnure said about his decision to give up lacrosse. "I just missed football so much and really wanted to get back on the field. I felt I was missing out not doing that. I really just wanted the opportunity to play football again.”
Turnure spent the next three seasons as a walk-on, recording just one tackle in that span, which came in Ohio State's 31-0 loss to Clemson on New Year's Eve 2016.
More than eight months later, on Aug. 12, Turnure and fellow walk-on Elijaah Goins were awarded scholarships for their senior seasons.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) August 12, 2017
Like Goins, Turnure was bombarded with hugs and congratulations from teammates the moment head coach Urban Meyer announced the linebacker would receiver a scholarship. One of those teammates was redshirt-sophomore quarterback Joe Burrow, who said the linebacker has a nickname to go along with his scholarship.
“Nobody deserves it more than Elijaah and meat face. Meat face – that’s Zach’s nickname. I’m sure you can tell his face – it’s pretty meaty," Burrow said Aug. 14. "Nobody deserves it more than those guys. They’re some of the hardest workers on the team and I’m glad they got to experience that and I’m glad we got to experience that with them.”
In addition to celebrating with his teammates, Turnure said he also got to enjoy the moment with his parents, who were in town visiting when Meyer announced Turnure would be receiving a scholarship.
“When I had initially talked to Coach Meyer about it, I told them it was maybe in the works, that it might happen. Just the talk of that, they were excited," Turnure said. "They were actually here that day they announced it to the team. My mom was bawling. They loved it. They were just as excited as I was because they were along for the whole journey.”
Turnure becomes the third walk-on linebacker in two years to be awarded a scholarship as Joe Burger and Craig Fada were given the honor in 2016.
Turnure said watching Burger and Fada over the last few years gave him a personal goal to strive for as a Buckeye linebacker.
“Joe and Fada really paved the way for me. They were huge role models for me," Turnure said. "Being a walk-on is obviously not easy and to be able to see them progress and earn a scholarship and a spot on the team, that was huge for me and my motivation to continue to move on and push.”
While he has been a member of the football team for three years, Turnure said he still pays close attention to what his former coaches and teammates are doing on the lacrosse field.
In the spring of 2017, the Buckeyes fell one game short of a national title. Turnure said despite missing out on the postseason run, he has no regrets about his decision and continues to support the lacrosse team from the stands.
“I never had any regrets along the way. I am still really good friends with the guys on the lacrosse team," he said. "That whole time, I was at every home game cheering on my buddies. It was really cool seeing that run for them and I was so happy for them and the coaches especially. "