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Turpins Path to the Pro Bowl Included Every Obstacle Possible and a Pandemic

KaVontae Turpin attended Neville High School in Monroe, Louisiana. As a senior, he had a standout season with 1,928 all-purpose yards, including 904 rushing yards and 724 receiving yards, and 29 touchdowns. His impressive performance earned him All-state, All-Northeast Louisiana, and All-NELA Big School Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Turpin was a highly sought-after recruit and was ranked as the no. 12 prospect in Louisiana. He ultimately committed to Texas Christian University (TCU) on a football scholarship in 2015. As a true freshman, Turpin made an immediate impact by starting in five of 13 games. He had a career-best performance on October 5, when he recorded 6 receptions for 138 yards and four touchdowns in a win over the University of Texas. This performance earned him the title of Big 12 Co-Offensive Player of the Week and also made him the first freshman in Big 12 history to score four touchdowns in a single game.

Despite being injured in the seventh game of the season, Turpin still managed to finish the year with impressive statistics. He had 45 receptions (a freshman school record), 649 receiving yards (also a freshman school record), 8 receiving touchdowns (yet another freshman school record), and 1,675 all-purpose yards (leading the team). He also averaged 15.3 yards every time he touched the ball and was a standout performer in kickoff and punt returns. In fact, Turpin was the only player in the nation to rank in the top 25 in both kickoff and punt returns. His impressive performances earned him freshman All-American honors from the FWAA and an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection as a return specialist.

Turpin continued to excel as a return specialist in his sophomore year, although he was limited by injuries. He appeared in eight games, recording 30 receptions for 295 yards and one touchdown. He also had an impressive punt return average of 16.2 yards and a kickoff return average of 30.8 yards. Turpin was one of only five players in the nation to score touchdowns on both a punt return and a kickoff return. He was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week twice during this season, once for his 81-yard punt return touchdown in the season opener and once for his 169 total return yards and 7 receptions for 126 yards in the second game of the season.

As a junior, Turpin appeared in all 14 games, starting in three of them. He recorded 41 receptions for 394 yards, one receiving touchdown, and 1,202 all-purpose yards. He also scored touchdowns on a punt return, a kickoff return, and even threw a touchdown pass. This impressive stat line earned him first-team All-Big 12 honors as a kick and punt returner, first-team AP All-Big 12 honors (all-purpose), and honorable mention All-Big 12 honors as a wide receiver. He was also named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for his 95-yard punt return touchdown in a game against the University of Kansas.

Turpin's senior season was overshadowed by off-field issues. He played the entire season with a warrant out for his arrest on domestic violence charges, which ultimately led to his dismissal from the TCU football team. Despite this, Turpin was still able to record 23 receptions for 281 yards and two touchdowns in nine games. He also had an impressive average of 13.1 yards per punt return.

Overall, KaVontae Turpin had a successful college career, especially as a return specialist. He holds several school records at TCU and was named a first-team All-Big 12 performer twice.

After going undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft, Turpin signed with the Frisco Fighters of the Indoor Football League (IFL), though he never got the opportunity to play due to the cancellation of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He later joined the FCF Glacier Boyz and then the Sea Lions of The Spring League, where he had a successful season with multiple receiving touchdowns.

In 2021, Turpin signed with the Panthers Wrocław of the European League of Football in Poland, where he had a standout season with 702 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns. He opted to be eligible for the draft of the newly founded United States Football League (USFL) and was selected by the New Jersey Generals in the 13th round. In his first season with the Generals, Turpin had a league-leading 540 receiving yards and was second in the league with four receiving touchdowns. He was also a threat on special teams, with one touchdown and 184 punt return yards.

Turpin's impressive performances earned him the title of USFL MVP and a spot on the Dallas Cowboys roster for the 2022 season. In his first preseason game with the Cowboys, he scored two touchdowns on returns of 98 and 86 yards, leading his team to victory. He continued to excel throughout the season and was named to the Pro Bowl team, becoming the first player in Cowboys history to make the Pro Bowl solely as a kick/punt returner. The Pro Bowl will be replaced by a Skill Challenge in Las Vegas in 2023, with Peyton and Eli Manning serving as the captains.

Austyn McFadden

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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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