In an unprecedented a move, the NCAA has restored the eligibility of Arizona State punter Michael Turk, who declared for the 2020 NFL draft, hired an agent and participated at the NFL combine before going undrafted and unsigned in free agency, a school spokesman confirmed.
“I left college early to pursue a professional career and that didn’t work out, however,” Turk said in a video posted to Twitter. “I’ve been working hard and praying about it and now, due to COVID-19 and extenuating circumstances, I’ve actually been granted my two years of eligibility back to play college football and I will be going back to Arizona State University.”
Turk, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection as a redshirt sophomore in 2019, made headlines at the combine in February, where he put up an astonishing 25 repetitions on the bench press but didn’t have a convincing showing while punting. He was hoping to bounce back with better performances at the school’s pro day and subsequent individual workouts for NFL teams, but the coronavirus pandemic prevented those opportunities from happening.
When he didn’t land on an NFL roster, Turk, the nephew of former NFL punter Matt Turk, requested assistance from Arizona State to draft an appeal to have his eligibility restored, citing the impact of the pandemic on his ability to showcase his ability to scouts, a school spokesman said.
It was a shot in the dark, but the NCAA informed Turk and ASU this week the appeal was granted. It is unknown if other college players have filed similar appeals or if others similarly affected will try to follow suit. Turk did not receive any money from his agent, a school spokesman said.
A message left for the NCAA seeking additional details of Turk’s appeal was not immediately returned.
After it appeared Turk would no longer be with the program, the Sun Devils received a commitment from Florida State graduate transfer Logan Tyler, who led the ACC in yards per punt (43.2) in 2018. Tyler, who has not yet been admitted to ASU, is expected to compete to be the Sun Devils’ starting kicker and punter.
Turk began his college career at Lafayette College before transferring to ASU prior to the 2018 season, when he redshirted. His yards-per-punt average in 2019 (46.0) led the Pac-12, and he set the single-game NCAA yards-per-punt record (minimum five attempts) against Kent State on Aug. 29 (63.0).