Clemson WR Cole Turner Compares to…Nuk Hopkins?

Comparisons are natural in sports. 

It’s nearly impossible for coaches to watch a player and not think of others they’ve played with or coached up. 

But how much should the general public take notice when one guy is compared to a legend or star player? 

That was a reasonable question following Monday’s availability with Clemson receivers coach Tyler Grisham and running backs coach C.J. Spiller. 

Grisham was asked about redshirt freshman Cole Turner and who he reminds Grisham of, but the former Clemson receiver didn’t want to put the name out there.

“You need to ask (former Clemson QB) Tajh Boyd,” Grisham replied. “I’m not going to say it. I’m not going to say it.”

When the reporter who asked the question said Boyd, who also works on the football staff, believes Turner looks a lot like former Clemson star and Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins, Grisham had to acknowledge it. 

“I wasn’t going to say that here,” Grisham said. “It’s hard to say.”

It really is. After all, Hopkins played like one of the top pass-catchers Clemson’s ever had, and he went on to be a first-round NFL draft pick by the Houston Texans. Hopkins is a five-time Pro Bowler who’s produced 11,298 receiving yards and scored 71 touchdowns in his 10-year pro career. 

Spiller interjected with his own comparison for the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Turner, throwing out another NFL receiver. 

“Ed McCaffrey, Denver Broncos, faster,” Spiller said. “That’s who he is. He can be very special, but I can see Ed McCaffrey. When you think about it, it’s very similar body types.”

McCaffrey, the father of San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey, won three Super Bowl titles, made the Broncos’ 50th-anniversary team, and was a first-team All-American at Stanford.  

This is a lot of high praise and bold comparisons for a Clemson receiver who’s played three games in his career. A popular name with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney since Turner stepped on campus, the Vestavia Hills, Ala., native has been turning heads in practice since last year. 

And despite only seeing action late in the season, he ended up ranking fifth among receivers (tight ends and running backs excluded) in yards with 161 on just eight catches. 

Turner recorded the only 100-yard game of any Clemson Tiger in 2022 with his 101 yards against UNC in the ACC Championship Game. 

This spring, Turner, younger brother of former Tiger safety Nolan Turner, has benefited from first-team reps with Beaux Collins and Adam Randall out of competitive drills. 

“He looks like a stronger player, still room to grow,” Grisham said. “That’s an area that I’ve really challenged him in, but he’s playing stronger. He’s playing faster, confident, and having fun. 

“He made, might have already heard, but in the last scrimmage a great play over Nate (Wiggins), who’s a fantastic corner, a nice over-the- shoulder touchdown play, got a foot in.”

If Tuner keeps doing that, the lofty comparisons will continue to roll in around Tiger Town.

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