By Patrick Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
It's tough to miss Ryan Turley these days out on the practice fields during the Arizona football team's spring drills.
At 6-foot-7, 275 pounds, Turley towers above most of the team.
But after graduating from Mesa (Ariz.) Mountain View High School, Turley, now a junior, was all-too-inconspicuous to the college football world. He was tall even then, 6-foot-6, but weighed only 200 pounds Ä not big enough to be offensive line material.
Too small to play at the Division I level, Turley decided to attend Mesa Community College, where he waited for heredity to take over. He knew his growth spurt would come later than others because it runs in the family. His father put on serious weight after the expected years for growth had passed, so Turley expected the same results.
"I'm kind of a late bloomer," Turley said. "After high school, some schools said I had potential, but not enough to give me a shot. I knew that I'd gain weight though because my dad was kind of a late bloomer too.
"At that time I had been gaining weight steadily, but just not enough. I just figured with two years at Mesa Community I could put on the weight and then step up to the next level."
The next level turned out to be Spain. After his first year of community college, Turley was sent to northern Spain on a two-year Mormon mission.
With no football to occupy his time, Turley began to put on extra pounds with the assistance of the local fare.
"It was a lot of fun, a real good experience," he said of his Iberian trip. "But there was no football at all, the most I could do to stay in shape was sit-ups and push-ups. I gained weight while I was there, probably because of the Spanish food. I put on 40 pounds, and that was while not doing much."
Coming back to the United States at a hefty 260 pounds, Turley's legs had trouble at first getting used to the extra weight. But after a few months of training,
he was ready to go, and ready to draw the attention of major colleges such as Arizona State, Brigham Young, UCLA and Arizona.
"I guess he just grew," said UA offensive line coach Charlie Dickey. "We knew about him in high school, knew that he was a real tough kid. He just wasn't real big. He just grew."
The new tackle-to-tackle offensive line being installed for next season played a large role in luring Turley to Tucson. He is competing for the starting right tackle spot with Willie Walker, who outweighs Turley by about 20 pounds at 293.
Turley is trying to shorten that gap. He has already gained 16 pounds in the two and a half months he has been here to get up to 275 pounds, and he's hoping to get even bigger.
"I want to gain as much as I can," he said. "I'm hoping to get up to 290 by the fall. The weight coach kids around with me, saying he'll get me up to 300 by July. I eat a lot, and have Powerbars and power shakes. There is also a good lifting program, so that helps out too."
While it is only spring practice, and no job will be decided until the fall, Turley has been making strides to claim a starting position.
"He's working really hard and getting better," Dickey said. "I can see him as a good lineman."
Read Next Article