Santa Margarita Catholic High School, while not as big of a local sports powerhouse as say, Mater Dei or Mission Viejo High Schools, still pumps out a number of high-profile athletes--many of whom end up with decorated collegiate and pro careers. Former Trojan offensive lineman Max Tuerk was actually a student there, so writing up a profile on him strikes a bit of a personal chord as living in Southern California, my older brother and I had the privilege to be involved at the school in a number of capacities.
Coming out of high school, Tuerk was one of the highest-rated offensive linemen recruits in the country. He was a tackle in high school and the long-term idea with USC was to have him be another bookend player at the position in a long line of them at the university. Injuries, coaching changes and need for interior line help saw Tuerk kick inside at center. The former Eagle and Trojan is one of the most versatile players in this year's draft.
Stats and Numbers:
Weight: 298 pounds
Bench Press: 22 Repetitions
*Tuerk is recovering from a knee injury which kept him out of most drills.
Pro Day Results:
Bench Press: 22 Repetitions
40-yard dash: 5.12 secs
Draft Projection: Rounds 4-5
Pro Comparisons: Max Unger, Cameron Erving
Strengths, Weaknesses and Outlook:
Strengths: Tuerk has started games at center, left guard, left tackle and right tackle at the collegiate level and played all at a high level. While he isn't built like many traditional stocky centers, his athleticism, footwork and solid use of leverage has allowed him to hold up on the outside and interior positions on the line. His superior athleticism over many other centers has showcased the ability to move up the field for blocking beyond the initial level. If healthy, many believe he'll be an effective starter at a few positions on NFL offensive lines.
Weaknesses: When talking about Tuerk, injuries are the big knock. He's currently rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered in October of 2015. Most felt he'd be a second round Draft pick this year if he was healthy. He had other bumps and bruises throughout his collegiate career too, so teams have to be cautious of the stigma associated with missed time. There are also some concerns about his ability to drive people off the line (which is especially huge against the 3-4 defenses in the AFC North), as opposed to just holding pat at the point of contact. Some people might also have thoughts about the odd way he holds and snaps the football.
Outlook: If Tuerk remains healthy, he should be an effective starter in the league, and if he is indeed selected on day three of the NFL Draft, he could be a great steal. His floor seems relatively high too, as a guy who could be a backup and come fill in at a number of spots on the line should injury occur, and/or move over to another starting spot on the offensive line if one of his teammates suffers an injury. When I recently asked Joe Goodberry about him, the draft guru compared him to the versatile and athletic Eric Steinbach. The 2016 season might have to be a redshirt year though, depending on how his knee is responding and the team that selects him.