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Max Tuerk's position change pans out

Yesterday, it seems as if Max Tuerk (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita) was a wide-eyed sophomore, merely hoping to earn a job as a starting tight end.

Fast forward nearly two-plus years later, turns out catching passes in the secondary against opposing cornerbacks and safeties was never in the cards. However, dominating defensive tackles, along with ends, up front at the line of scrimmage was in his future.

And what a future it appears to be. Quite limitless, in fact.

Tuerk made the all-important decision to switch positions a few short seasons ago, and ultimately, the move to offensive tackle proved to be a particularly wise choice considering the 2012 prospect has quickly emerged as one of nation's premier players at his position.

"Honestly, at first, going to the offensive line was tough, it was disappointing, I wanted to score some touchdowns. Looking back, it was a good change," Tuerk said. "I was hoping that playing somewhere different would take me places, I didn't expect anything though."

Make no mistake, Tuerk is going places. Once his senior season at Santa Margarita is in the proverbial books, the first destination for the 6-foot-5 and 285-plus pound tackle figures to be USC following the commitment he made to Lane Kiffin & Co. back in late May.

At the time of his pledge, Tuerk had plenty of options to choose from, close to 30 scholarship offers on the table from schools all over the country. Go ahead and count Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame and Oregon as the powerhouse programs interested in his services.

"The 2012 offensive tackle class is a pretty deep one, as 21 of them are in the ESPNU 150 and in the top half of that group is USC verbal Max Tuerk," said Craig Haubert, a national recruiting analyst for ESPN. "There are several positives to his game that makes him a good prospect, but one of the things that jumps out about him is that he is a pretty athletic for a big man.

"He displays very good flexibility, balance, and agility. You can really see his athleticism when he is asked to pull, locate and get a hat on defenders of the move. And in general does a very good job blocking in space. He also plays with some nastiness, which we like, and as a run blocker he can quickly fire out low and hard and is capable of driving defenders off the ball. He needs to keep adding good mass and will need some further development in pass protection, but the ability and tools are there to work with as he displays nimble feet, quick hands, and sets quickly."

Despite plans to join USC in the near future, colleges continue to inquire about the possibility of Tuerk eventually wavering and not staying close to home with the Trojans.

Apparently, coaches and scouts, alike, won't take no for an answer.

His stock is as high as it ever was, rightfully so.

Truth be told, Tuerk is as talented as they come.

"Picking USC was the best decision of my life, I'm still 100 percent committed," Tuerk said. "I love the atmosphere there, it's comfortable. The Trojans are the perfect fit."

There was a time when Tuerk wasn't comfortable though, when things were not perfect. Not too long ago, in fact. It all stemmed from him having to essentially give up his pass-catching responsibilities for the betterment of the team at Santa Margarita in Orange County.

Harry Welch, who is considered a living legend in Southern California coaching circles, signed on as head honcho for the Eagles when Tuerk was an underclassman. Accordingly, the convincing process began immediately, with the help of line coach Marty Spaulding.

Tuerk added some much-needed bulk to a frame that was already fully capable of putting on additional weight. A 215-pound sophomore, developed into a 255-pound junior. Nowadays, Tuerk towers over most opponents and tips the scales at right around 300 pounds.

"At first, I didn't win any points with Max or, his family, with his position change," Welch said. "No question, it was the right move for him though. He's fulfilling his potential and deserves all of the credit in the world for putting in the hard work to improve.

"I told Max and plenty of other people, anyone who would listen to me about his whole situation: It's like dating a lovely blonde and a world-class brunette shows interest in you. There's nothing wrong with blonde, but in the end, the brunette was right choice.

"I've talked a number of different universities about Max. If there are 120 major schools in the nation, I'd say 100 of them expressed interested. Alabama and Michigan, among others, made it very clear they did not want anyone more than they wanted Max Tuerk. I had five coaches at a time in my office here at school and each and every one of them wanted to know anything and everything I know about him. We'd have just as many scouts watching our practices during the week. Max is a special player. He will be playing football long after his days at USC are finished."

Tuerk compares favorably to most of his counterparts throughout the country. ESPNU ranks him as the nation's No. 10 offensive tackle, the No. 56 recruit overall.

He's mentioned in the same sentence as fellow ESPNU 150 lineman such as Arik Armstead (Elk Grove, Calif./Pleasant Grove), Andrus Peat (Tempe, Ariz./Corona del Sol), John Theus (Jacksonville, Fla./The Bolles School) and D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek).

And to think, at one point early on during what has been a relatively brief career thus far, Tuerk nearly ended up as tight end -- not as a big body down in the trenches.

In retrospect, the position change worked out for the best.

"I love what I'm doing now, and I get to eat anything that I want, five times a day sometimes," Tuerk said. "Seriously, everything happens for a reason, I believe that. I was put into a good situation and I plan on taking advantage of my opportunities in the future."

So far, so good.