Arkansas lands transfer catcher from Kent State
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Just like it did last summer, Arkansas dipped into the transfer portal to find Casey Opitz’s replacement.
Kent State catcher Michael Turner announced Tuesday that he would play his final collegiate season with the Razorbacks, taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA in response to last season being wiped out by the pandemic.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Ohio native spent four seasons with the Golden Flashes, starting 107 games and earning first-team All-MAC honors in 2019.
That was by far his best season at Kent State, as he appeared in 40 of 54 games and hit .369 with four home runs and 42 RBIs. Turner was particularly dominant in MAC play that year, hitting .391 with 32 RBIs in 23 games.
For his career, Turner slashed .322/.413/.481 with 36 extra-base hits - including 11 home runs - and 88 RBIs. He also finished with more walks (64) than strikeouts (59) and was 9 of 11 on stolen base attempts.
Although he appeared in only 25 of Kent State’s 56 games, Turner showed more power than previous seasons this year with six home runs in only 89 at bats.
Based on box scores during the season, it seems like he is a versatile player who also made starts at the corner infield positions. However, he is listed as a catcher.
It is the second straight offseason the Razorbacks hit the transfer portal for a catcher. Last year, they brought in A.J. Lewis from Eastern Kentucky and Robert Emery from San Francisco, only to have both sign professional contracts after Opitz went undrafted and returned for his senior year.
With Opitz’s collegiate career almost certainly over now, Arkansas is once again searching for his replacement. Turner’s primary competition when he gets to Fayetteville will be sophomore Dylan Leach, who skipped his senior year of high school to come to school early and was the backup in 2021.
Pinch-hit extraordinaire Charlie Welch is also listed as a catcher on the Razorbacks’ roster, but head coach Dave Van Horn has indicated he’s been working primarily at first base in practice. Arkansas is bringing in JUCO transfer Zac Voolitech, who played multiple positions - including catcher - at Navarro C.C., and high school signee Max Soliz, as well.
Stay tuned to HawgBeat to see what Turner had to say about his decision to transfer to Arkansas.