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Turk steadily improves as starting punter

Laura Coletti | Wednesday, November 14, 2012

During Irish punter Ben Turk’s senior season, he has established success to cap a career that has faced many challenges as a rare four-year starter at punter.
Upon graduation from Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Turk was ranked No. 3 nationally among punters in his class. Turk chose Notre Dame over Alabama, Cincinnati, Florida and Miami.

“It was a pretty easy decision for me as far as picking a school,” Turk said. “Notre Dame was among the top academically, so for school reasons and academics I chose to come to Notre Dame.”

His punting debut came during his freshman year in Notre Dame’s 37-30 overtime victory over Washington. Turk was subsequently named the starter by then-Irish coach Charlie Weis and punted in six of the team’s final eight games.

“Freshman year was pretty stressful, kind of going back and forth between playing and not playing,” Turk said. “I was kind of competing for a job every week. I feel like it made me a better punter, though, just to be in those pressure situations at practice, so that it was not only in games but in practice that I was having to compete.”

Turk maintained his starting role into his sophomore year, staying consistent with a 38.3-yard average. He hit his stride during his junior year, when he averaged 40.3 yards per punt on the season and hit a career-long 58-yard punt in the Irish’s 45-21 victory over Maryland.

This year, Turk has continued to increase the average length of his punts, as well as help the Irish on special teams. He cited holding for sophomore kicker Kyle Brindza as one of his more personal exciting points on the season.

“Against Purdue, the field goal to avoid going into overtime when I was holding [for Brindza] was exciting, because it was the first time I was a part of the game-tying or game-winning play,” he said.

Along with his consistent improvement over the last four years, Turk and senior long-snapper Jordan Cowart have a personal record to keep intact. The two were teammates at Saint Thomas Aquinas as well, and the pair has yet to have one of their punts blocked in the seven years they have been playing together – a statistic rare for a four-year starter at punter in college football. Turk has also earned a monogram all four years, another especially rare statistic for a punter.       

It should be no surprise that Turk has become a more successful athlete as his football career has progressed. His uncle, Matt Turk, made the NFL Pro Bowl three times while punting for the Washington Redskins. The family ties influenced Turk while in high school and has continued to have an impact on his career.

“It was nice to kind of have a personal coach who’s done it so long at the professional level,” Turk said. “If I needed anyone to give advice or anything, he was probably the person to go to.”

In addition to devoting time to his on-field improvement as a punter, Turk has worked hard to improve in the classroom. As a finance major in the Mendoza College of Business, he takes as much pride in representing Notre Dame as a student as he does in representing the school as a member of the football team. He is a tour guide for the University, as well as an employee at the Hesburgh Library’s circulation desk during the offseason. Turk thoroughly enjoys his classes in finance, and said they are his favorite thing about Notre Dame outside of football.

“I really enjoy learning about different finance topics and I think the classes are great,” he said “I actually enjoy going to class, so that’s probably my favorite thing outside of football.”

As for his post-graduation plans, Turk is exploring a variety of roles in the financial world – while keeping an eye on potential opportunities on the gridiron. He is exploring options in both football and finance.

“I want to go into sales and trading or investment banking,” he said. “But I’m still kind of playing out the whole football scenario and worrying about a job after that.”

Contact Laura Coletti at
[email protected]