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Dolphins draft NDSU’s Turner in 3rd

NEW YORK — Near the end of the second round of the NFL Draft on Friday, Billy Turner got word where his football career is taking him next.

The Miami Dolphins called and told the former North Dakota State offensive tackle they were trying to trade up to nab Turner early in the third round.

“I guess the rest is history,” said Turner, who was a four-year starter for the Bison. “They ended up getting the trade.”

The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Turner was taken No. 67 overall with the third pick in the third round by the Dolphins.

He was the second Division I FCS player taken in this draft. Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was taken No. 62 overall by the New England Patriots in the second round.

“It’s an honor, but it’s been a long time coming for me and the rest of the FCS guys who are fortunate enough to get picked in this draft,” Turner said.

The Dolphins are one of the teams Turner visited leading up to the draft.

“I’m looking forward to getting out of this cold weather, No. 1,” cracked Turner, who helped NDSU win three consecutive FCS national titles.

Turner was the second offensive lineman Miami drafted in the first three rounds of the draft. The Dolphins picked Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James in the first round. Turner said he could play tackle or guard for Miami.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be competing at tackle or competing at guard, but wherever I’m competing, I’m going to compete nonetheless and try to work into that starting role as soon as possible,” Turner said.

Turner was at home in the Twin Cities area watching the draft with his parents, one of his brothers and a guy who is filming a web series about Turner’s draft journey.

Maurice Turner, Billy’s father, was drafted in the 12th round of the 1983 draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Maurice played running back.

“I’m looking forward to be able to go to a great organization and get the shot to play right away,” Billy Turner said. “They need some O-line help and they’ve got some great guys in place down there.”

On the ESPN broadcast, draft analyst Mel Kiper said this about Turner: “This is a good Division I-AA (FCS) prospect who will impact the Miami Dolphins offensive line.”

Turner is the fifth-highest NDSU player by overall pick taken in the NFL Draft. NDSU has had three former players drafted in the second round — defensive end Phil Hansen, wide receiver Stacy Robinson and linebacker Steve Nelson.

Hansen was taken at No. 54 by the Buffalo Bills in the 1991 NFL Draft. Robinson was taken at No. 46 by the New York Giants in 1985. Nelson was taken No. 34 by the New England Patriots in 1974.

The highest-drafted NDSU player by overall pick is defensive back Ernie Wheeler. Wheeler was taken in the fifth round (No. 32 overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1939.

Turner is the first NDSU third-round pick since running back Lamar Gordon was taken No. 84 overall by St. Louis in the 2002 NFL Draft.

Turner he plans to fly to Miami on Sunday.

“I would say it was surreal, but I was on the phone and knew beforehand and seeing it go across the (TV) screen I got a little excited,” Turner said being picked.

“I’m not really the type of guy that’s going to get crazy, excited about that. … I’m not really going to look back on all this stuff until I am a retired NFL veteran.”

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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