Free State High School has been full of Division I talent as of recent, heck last year KU had three starters on their defense from the high school in Bryce Torneden, Keith Loneker Jr. and Joe Dineen Jr.. Northwestern had one, Buddy Wyatt, as did Kansas State in Scott Frantz on the offensive side of the football and that's just the last few graduating classes. Free State also sent two players to Kansas State last season in Keenan Garber and Jax Dineen. We might as well just say the City of Lawrence as Amani Bledsoe (Lawrence HS) shined at Oklahoma and now will have a shot in the NFL along with Dineen. Free State has been a school since the mid 1990's when Lawrence High split and has produced a ton of talent.
It's no different in 2019 and in the Class of 2020 for the Firebirds as they feature one of the nations top offensive line recruits in 6-foot-6, 290-pound, senior to be, lineman, Turner Corcoran. Corcoran is rated the 33rd top recruit in the country for the Class of 2020 by 247sports. He is also ranked the #1 player in the entire state of Kansas for this upcoming senior class and the #3 overall offensive tackle in the country. He is listed as a four-star recruit, for those who care about rankings. He's not far off at all from the five star ranking meaning he is one of the best offensive line recruits Kansas has ever seen.
Corcoran, who has committed to play for Scott Frost at Nebraska, enters year three as a starter for Free State. He has earned the prestigous honor of back-to-back selections on the Sports in Kansas Non-Senior Football Team, honoring the states top players who aren't yet seniors. He had offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Kansas State, Kansas, Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan and Notre Dame among several others before choosing the Huskers. Corcoran was also an Adidas All-American.
Corcoran and the Firebirds had a solid campaign in 2018 with a 10-1 record in Class 6A. He has his sights set on another deep run in 2019. They also return Division I athlete recruit Malik Berry who can play multiple spots and could shine at both quarterback and on the defense. The Firebirds also welcome in first year head coach Kevin Stewart after longttime coach Bob Lisher retired after the 2018 season. Free State has three starters returning for their spread offense and six on the defensive side of the ball. Some of those key pieces in addition to Corcoran and Berry will be Marcus Preston and Lovett Epelle.
Altough he shines in the recruiting rankings and on Friday nights in the fall, he also gets it done in the classroom. Corcoran boasts a 3.8 GPA as a student. The NFL is his ultimate goal but for right now it's to try and bring Free State their first ever state football title. The city of Lawrence has not had a football state title since 1995 when Lawrence High won it all. The Chesty Lions still have the most wins in Kansas history but since the split to two high schools, FSHS or LHS has not won a state football title. We caught up with the oustanding senior student athlete below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
Chet Kuplen, CEO/Founder of Sports in Kansas, on Turner Corcoran
"He has a shot to go down as one of the most heavily recruited lineman in Kansas history. Aside from all the recruiting stuff, he's a good football player on a good team. Some times its all about size and projection on a kid. Sure there is alot of that here too but he's a very good football player and wants to win a state title at his high school. When I first saw him in person he was coming out of his sophomore year and headed into his junior yeat at a prospect camp in Salina, I couldn't believe his size and he moved very well. He jumps off the page that is for sure. Now he may not be a Braden Smith strong type of kid from my observation but they seem to be close to the same size coming out of high school. I also think Turner can add a lot of weight and wear it well. He should have the versatility to play every spot on the offensive line if he needed to as well. a great kid too and academics are important to him with his 3.8 GPA. Free State has produced so much Division I talent, it is crazy! On another note the 2020 class of offensive lineman in Kansas is very deep and very good. Theres guys out there that are FCS/FBS caliber that don't have those offers yet because there are so many to pick from. That will change as more kids across the country commit and they have to come find players in "hidden" Kansas."
Q&A w/ Turner Corcoran
How did you get involved in football?
I always loved watching it growing up, decided in 2nd grade to play through a Lawrence youth team and have played ever since
What are your goals this season?
Win SFL and make a great run into the post season
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
Of course, I feel like once we get rolling on offense we’re going to be a solid team, our defense has not changed very much and they’ll be very dominant like years past
What makes you such a force as a player?
Doing the dirty work up front is basically my job and I’ve always loved doing it because it helps the team out in ways people don’t always appreciate unless you’ve played the game of football
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
It’s electric, just knowing that you’re able to be out there with the guys you’ve grinded with all summer and having a packed crowd almost every Friday is one of the best feelings to have
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
People should come to Free State games because they are fun to watch, we score quite a bit and our defense has some of the best talent in the state, overall a great game to see every Friday.
Who are other key players on your team?
Colter Maldonado, Malik Berry, Marcus Preston, Lovett Epelle
Favorite thing about football?
Driving a defeder off the ball and putting him in the turf, hands down the best feeling
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I used to play basketball here at free state but I’ll be graduating early in December. But basketball keeps my coordination in check along with staying in shape.
What is it like to play for your coach?
It is fun. He’s a players coach, he’s young and athletic but overall he genuenly cares about the kid under the helmet.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
Workouts from 6:30-9 always busting our tails to get better whether it’s in the weight room or on the field or in the classroom
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I’ll be playing ball up at Nebraska next year, I am really looking forward to getting up there under coach Frost and developing in coach Duvals weight room
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
Being around friends, I’m always relaxed and having a good time while it lasts because I know, and they know that there’s not much time before we all split for college
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully in the NFL, after having a great career at Nebraska I can see myself in the league playing ball against guys like the Bosa’s or Myles Garrett
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject would have to be history, it’s always fun to see how everything came to be to see what kind of people we are today, I would say I’m a good student. 3.8 GPA
Who is your role model?
Lane Johnson with the Eagles when it comes to football because of how well he plays the OT spot. Outside of football i would say my sister, Paige, she’s always had a big heart for sports and I just want to be able to make her proud
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
Burger Stand, downtown Massachusetts st.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
I am actually a nice guy and I grew up an Oregon fan for football their uniforms were ahead of their time
Anything else to add?
If you’re from Lawrence or around the area, come to a free state game this fall.