ETSU's Turner gives up football

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY -- Tim Turner figured to be a big-time football player in East Tennessee State's offense this upcoming season.
   But Turner figured out he just wanted to play baseball.
   Turner has decided to give up football so he can concentrate on baseball.
   Turner is currently playing in the Coastal Plains League this summer, and is starting to turn the heads of Major League scouts.
   "Because he's having a great summer, Tim's decided to focus all his energy on baseball," ETSU head baseball coach Tony Skole said. "He has a chance to go high in the draft. Tim talked to coach (Paul) Hamilton about it, and he's not upset."
   Turner was a standout pitcher for the Bucs this season, as he became one of the Southern Conference's biggest threats on the mound.
   Turner admitted the chance to make it big in baseball weighed in heavily on his decision.
   "I made a decision to just stick to baseball," Turner said. "It was a personal decision that had nothing to do with the football team. It's just I have a better chance to pursue baseball after college."
   Turner has been thinking about his future a lot lately. And he simply decided that he had a better chance to make it in baseball instead of football.
   "It was basically that I want to go to the next level," Turner said. "It was about my future, and I was thinking 'where is my future.' I think it's in baseball. I think I should give 100 percent at it."
   Turner, a rising junior, was a lightning quick receiver on the football team. Turner's brightest moment on the football field came his freshman year at Liberty, when he scored three touchdowns in that contest.
   Turner thought it was difficult to leave the football program, especially considering the Bucs have been ranked nationally in several preseason publications and have high hopes for the upcoming year.
   "It was the toughest decision that I've possibly ever made," Turner said. "I couldn't choose the sport I liked the best. I put a lot of thought into it. I talked to a lot of my past coaches about it, and that's the decision I've made."
   Now that Turner is focusing on baseball, he is happy with the progress he is making as a player this summer.
   "I'm doing pretty good on the mound," Turner said. "I'm learning a lot about baseball. It's really a good league."
   Former Johnson County Longhorn baseball standout Chris Gambill has transferred to ETSU.
   Gambill, who pitched for Milligan College this past season as a freshman, posted a 5-5 record with a 4.20 E.R.A. for the 'Buffs.
   Gambill had the most wins of any Milligan pitcher, and he struck out a team best 43 hitters in 56.2 innings of work.
   Skole is usually hesitant to take transfers, but some kind words from Milligan head coach Danny Clark assured the Buccaneer skipper.
   "We wouldn't of had an interest unless coach Clark hadn't given him such good reviews," Skole said. "We're going to see if he can make the jump from NAIA baseball to Division I baseball.
   Skole hasn't seen Gambill pitch since his stellar high school days, but he thinks Gambill has the skills to be successful at this level.
   "If we didn't think he could help us, we wouldn't have given him a roster spot," Skole said. "Hopefully, he can come in and win some games for us."
   Skole did recruit Gambill when he was in high school, so he is familiar with his talents.
   Skole is still wondering whether Gambill can make the jump from NAIA to the Southern Conference, but knows he will work hard.
   "He's a good athlete and a good kid that works hard," Skole said. "If he comes here, works hard and wants to win, he can do some good things. There's always a question of making that jump, but we're excited to have him in the program."
   Gambill becomes only the second former Johnson County Longhorn athlete to play Division I athletics. April Arnold has played for the ETSU softball team the last two seasons, and was the first from Johnson County to go D-I.