Jan. 7, 2004
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - University of New Mexico offensive guard Robert Turner was named to the third annual Scripps/FWAA Freshman All-America Team on Tuesday, becoming the third Lobo to earn All-America honors this year. Turner, a redshirt freshman, is the first New Mexico rookie to be honored by the Football Writers Association of America since fellow guard Claude Terrell was named to the All-Freshman Team in 2001.
Terrell, now a junior, was named a third team All-American by the Associated Press last month, while sophomore tailback DonTrell Moore was tabbed an honorable mention All-America selection by Sports Illustrated. Linebacker Nick Speegle and punter Tyler Gaus are the other two Lobos to be named freshman All-America under head coach Rocky Long, earning third team honors from The Sporting News in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
Turner moved into the starting lineup at quick guard during the final week of preseason practice after a sprained knee sidelined incumbent starter Calvin McDonald for the first month of the season. The Austin, Texas native flourished in his new role, starting all 13 games on the year. Turner finished second on the team, notching 127 knockdown blocks in the regular season, including 66 in his last five games (13.2 avg.).
Turner and Utah defensive back Eric Weddle were the only players from the Mountain West Conference to be selected for the Freshman All-America team. Tailback Justin Vincent, who was the most valuable player in LSU's 21-14 win over Oklahoma in the 2004 Nokia Sugar Bowl, and safety LaRon Landry, who picked off a pass in the Tigers' 34-13 romp over Georgia in the SEC title game, are two of the six SEC selections on this year's squad. Florida provided three of those players from the SEC in quarterback Chris Leak, defensive lineman Ray McDonald and linebacker Channing Crowder.
Another pair of teammates on the Scripps/FWAA team, Southern California's Reggie Bush and Darnell Bing, vaulted their team to a 12-1 record, the Pac-10 title and the Rose Bowl championship as well as the school's fifth Grantland Rice national championship trophy. The multi-talented Bush made was chosen as the kick return specialist, while Bing's consistency at safety helped anchor the Trojans' stellar defense.
The 27-member Scripps/FWAA team was selected by an 11-man committee representing each of the NCAA's Division I-A football conferences.
More than 70 players were nominated and evaluated by the committee. The vote took place following the respective conference championship games and before the bowl games. Thirteen of the 27 players selected are true freshmen, including eight on defense.