If the Packers want some insight into NFL Draft prospect and running back Robert Turbin, all they have to do is talk to his former teammate and current Packers wide receiver Diondre Borel.
Turbin and Borel were backfield partners at Utah State from 2007 to 2010. That was before the Packers converted Borel from college quarterback to professional pass catcher.
“I definitely think we complemented each other very, very well,” said Turbin. “He knew that on every single play, I had his back whether I had to block for him or run a route for him. And I knew that he had mine, whether he needed to put the ball in a certain spot, he was going to do it. And we had great communication. We would talk to each other in the backfield about what the defense was doing.”
The two still talk to each other on a weekly basis and consider themselves good friends, according to Turbin.
Even though Turbin probably wouldn’t mind if Borel put in a good word for him, the running back prefers to allow his body of work speak for itself.
“I’ve been proving myself my entire life, so I’m very used to it and I’m very open to it,” said Turbin. “It doesn’t get me down, bother me, or get me angry or anything like that. I love playing football. The opportunity is here.”
It’s become second nature to Turbin, whether it’s bouncing back from injury or overcoming his small-school pedigree.
The first instance of proving himself came during his true freshman season at Utah State when he tore the capsule at the bottom of his right big toe in 2007 and was granted a medical redshirt.
Turbin came back to see his first real college action in 2008 by rushing for over 400 yards and eight touchdowns and followed that up with a breakout 2009 campaign by running for nearly 1,300 yards, 13 touchdowns and averaging over six yards per carry.
Then injury struck again, a torn ACL in his right knee that forced Turbin to miss the entire 2010 season. No matter, Turbin again rebounded to rush for more than 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns on his way to being named the WAC’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Combine those injuries with the notion Turbin has to rise above concerns about the level of competition he faced coming from a mid-major college, and it’s driven him to become a better football player.
Turbin has heard it all, whether it’s that he didn’t face better competition or more complicated defenses or smaller defenders compared to larger universities. That’s all the motivation he needed.
“Coming out of high school people told me that (Utah State was) 1-11, 2-10 the past two seasons,” said Turbin. “In the past seven, eight seasons, haven’t won more than three or four games.
“Coming from somewhat of a winning high school, all I wanted to do was go to Utah State and bring somewhat of a winning attitude … bring in leadership to the best of my ability, coming from a team where I was a captain all four years, to maybe make 2-10, 10-2 or 1-11, 11-1.”
Utah State didn’t quite reach lofty heights such as going 11-1 or 10-2, but they did go 7-5 in 2011 and qualified for the school’s first postseason game since 1997 against Ohio in the Idaho Potato Bowl. Considering Utah State’s low profile, that’s considered a major improvement.
After talking to scouts and his coaches, Turbin declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season and is ready to make the jump to the next level.
“They asked me what’s the best thing about me, what are my best attributes,” said Turbin about talking to NFL teams at the Combine back in February. “My answer to that is, I think––and other people tell me this––is that I do a good job kind of doing everything.
“Not only running the ball but pass blocking and if you need me to run block, I’ll run block, running routes out of the backfield. I can line up in the slot and run intermediate routes. I can line up outside and run deep routes. I’ve done it, and I pride myself on being able to do that kind of stuff. I don’t want to be a guy that can just run inside zone or power. I want to be able to run stretch, toss, reverse, halfback pass, you know what I’m saying? Deep post. That’s what football’s all about.”