The topic comes up every so often, typically only with close friends because Chris Turner doesn’t want to feel like he’s bragging.
Meanwhile, Turner is vacationing in Utah, where he plans to ski with family, and oops … happened to book a return flight to his South Florida home while most of the rest of the country will be watching a certain football game.
“Hoping I have a TV on the plane,” Turner said on the phone Wednesday as he drove home from work.
Work for Turner involves meetings and conference calls rather than huddles and game film. He works in sales for Moet Hennessy USA, a wine and spirits supplier.
Turner still watches football -- particularly the Terps and Oakland Raiders -- and he’s “obsessed with fantasy football.”
Turner feels far removed from 2007, his sophomore year in college, the season his two biggest football highlights took place.
On Sept. 29, during a late-afternoon road game televised by ABC, Turner replaced Terps quarterback Jordan Steffy, who suffered a concussion in the second quarter. He completed 14 of 20 passes to hold off the Ray Rice-led Scarlet Knights, who entered the game ranked No. 10 in the nation.
Turner hype was palpable on campus, especially after he threw a 78-yard touchdown pass the following week in a win over Georgia Tech. The cool California kid with the curly, Napoleon Dynamite hair might just be the future.
The excitement was short-lived.
Three consecutive losses had the Terps battling merely for inclusion in a low-level bowl game.
Boston College would come to town on Nov. 10, but the Eagles, previously ranked No. 2, lost to Florida State just before playing the Terps. The matchup lost much of its cachet, and Turner remembers feeling calm heading into it.
“It’s one of the games I remember so vividly,” Turner said. “I was so relaxed for some reason. … I remember being relaxed, and we had a pass-heavy game plan. Everything falls into place. All the plays Fridge [coach Ralph Friedgen] called worked out, receivers ran sharp routes, I threw good balls.”
His most efficient self, Turner completed 21 of 27 passes for 337 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Ryan, whom Turner remembers having Aaron Rodgers-like mobility in college, was 33-for-56 for 421 yards, three TDs and two interceptions -- one by defensive tackle Dre Moore.
The Terps led after each quarter. Fans rushed the field after the fourth.
Maryland closed the regular season 6-6 and lost to Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl.
Turner played in 34 games at Maryland and posted mediocre numbers: 6,543 yards, 30 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. After graduating in 2009 with a degree in government and politics, he moved back to California where he trained for the NFL. It was a long shot for the 6-foot-4 signal-caller.
He never latched on with an NFL team and instead began working at a law firm before realizing that wasn’t the life for him. He tried out with the Georgia Force, a now-defunct Arena Football League team. The Force cut Turner on the last day of tryouts, he said.
He’s worked in beverage distribution since -- first in Florida, where he met his wife, then in California and now back in Florida. He played flag football for a while, but hasn’t thrown a spiral in six months. Pocket presence didn’t matter the last time he picked up a ball -- he was on the beach.
Ryan, whose Eagles finished 11-3 in 2007, placed seventh in Heisman Trophy voting that year. Quarterbacks Tim Tebow, Colt Brennan, Chase Daniel, Dennis Dixon and Pat White (as well as running back Darren McFadden) all finished ahead of him. The Atlanta Falcons made Ryan the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft, and he has been named to the Pro Bowl four times. After his finest season yet, he will likely be announced league MVP on Saturday.
The Terps' victory over Ryan in 2007 has come up with friends a few times this week, Turner said. But this isn’t revolutionary stuff. In college, Turner also helped Maryland beat Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who went on to lead the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII against the Ravens in 2013.
Turner's hair is now short and neat. He never liked the nickname "Napoleon Dynamite," anyway. He preferred “Sunshine,” which his teammates called him as a reference to the blonde quarterback in Remember the Titans who brought his rocket arm and easy demeanor from Florida.
Now, if someone at work wants to call Turner anything besides Chris, they go for long-hanging options, “CT” or “Turnsy.”
But they’re aware of Turner’s days as “Sunshine,” a laid-back college kid beating future NFL superstars on weekends.
“A lot of people do know,” Turner said of his playing career. “It’s one of the first things that comes up when interviewing for this job or past jobs. ... It was a long time ago now. I don’t spend a lot of time talking about it. I’m proud of it, though.”