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May 15, 2012 > Local athlete drafted into NFL

Local athlete drafted into NFL

By Helen Tracey-Noren

Fremont's own Robert Turbin has made it to the real deal, the National Football League. A graduate of Irvington High School, the recently drafted Seattle Seahawk said that he always knew he wanted to be a professional athlete.

"I was always focused on being a pro at something when I started playing sports at eight years old," said Turbin. "I just knew that I wanted to be a professional at something whether it was baseball, basketball or football. It was always my dream."

The 5'10" and 222 lb. running back has had a lot of help and support from teachers, coaches, and family members on his journey to the NFL. But he said that there's one person in particular who has always been there with words of wisdom.

"My dad was a huge inspiration. He was just always there," said Turbin. "He spends a lot of time at work and whatnot, but he always had something to say that would always make me think about it the next day. I never could quite understand every message that he might have sent out, but the older I got, the more I understood it, which helped me become a better person, which ultimately helped me become a better athlete. It helped my focus."

Turbin recalled that when he told his father that he wanted to be a professional athlete, he nodded and merely said, "Okay." Others gave him advice on whether or not he should pursue this dream and "would always give a message afterward, whether it was positive or negative." But his father just accepted that Turbin had chosen the path he wanted.

The Seahawks drafted Turbin in a fourth round pick April 28; the 106th pick overall. But this big news didn't create the reaction from Turbin one would think. Michelle Stone, athletic director at Irvington High School and wife of Turbin's high school football coach, recalled what her husband said had seen the day of the draft.

"Saturday of the draft, when Coach Stone drove by the house where Robert was staying [in Fremont], there were a bunch of kids outside playing basketball," said Stone with a chuckle. "He just got drafted, and who's out there playing basketball with his buddies? It was pretty incredible. Here's this big thing happening and he's just with his buddies."

Stone said she knew Turbin was bound for greatness when she first saw him as a freshman at Irvington. She didn't know if he would become a pro athlete, but he was going to be important.

"I knew, as a freshman coming in with the determination he had, that he was going to do something," said Stone. "I didn't necessarily know if it was going to be football or basketball, but his work ethic was a big thing. Of course, you don't know back when they are freshmen, 'Yeah, he's going to be a pro,' but as the years went on, the hard work and determination he displayed, indicated that he was going to be something."

His determination and work ethic are qualities that have set Turbin apart. In fact, Turbin is so dedicated to his sport that he would often stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. watching tapes and studying football.

"To be honest with you, if you were to look at just practice in high school, sometimes even college, there were harder workers than me," said Turbin. "They weren't great athletes, they didn't have the mojo or the savvy when it came to football or the intelligence of the game, to watch film or study people, but they just worked really hard. But the difference is, how hard are you working when practice is over? Before three and after five, what are you doing? And that's what makes the difference between good players and great players... what you are doing behind closed doors."

The strong ties Turbin has with his hometown roots, his easy-going demeanor and his work ethic are qualities that Irvington Principal Sarah Smoot wishes all Irvington students could emulate.

"That is what we would want Irvington to produce. I don't just mean about football, I'm talking about the warmth and the personality, the accessibility," said Smoot. "It just chokes me up, because I just think it's so cool that [Robert] still stays connected to people who are important to him. That's what I want Irvington to produce. I think it's amazing what [Robert] has been able to achieve, I'm just as proud that he graduated from Utah State. I just think that's incredible."

Despite Turbin's relaxed and easy-going attitude, his schedule is quite hectic and unpredictable. He hasn't been off his phone since the draft, talking with family, friends, agents, coaches and financial advisors at all hours of the day.

"My agent says that rookie year is always the craziest year for anybody going into a profession," said Turbin. "There's a lot of things that happen; everything kind of happens on the fly. You have to adjust. I know what I'm doing two days from now, but not two weeks from now."

Turbin will be attending a three-day mini-camp held by the Seahawks in Seattle starting on May 10 where he will learn skills and plays used in games. He was also invited to attend the Rookie Premier party held in Santa Monica, Calif. on May 16. The "SeaHulk" - Turbin's new nickname since the draft - keeps the distant future in mind, and has plans beyond a professional football career.

"The main focus is to make it as long of a career as possible," Turbin said. "But after that, I want to coach and start a camp for kids; maybe start a restaurant of some sort in town. I basically want to do a lot to give back... give back to the church I grew up in, give back to the high school I graduated from and the college I went to. [I want to] travel a little bit. But I'll stay busy, that's for sure."

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