Smith on Turbin: 'He's beautiful'

Posted May 7, 2012

After the Seahawks selected Robert Turbin in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, several people offered, "And Sherman just loves this guy." The team's original back who now coaches the backs explains why.

There’s his story, and obviously those arms. But there’s also a sidebar when it comes to Robert Turbin.

After the Seahawks had selected the Utah State running back in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, several people over the course of that last Saturday in April offered, “And Sherman just loves this guy.”

That would be Sherman Smith, the Seahawks’ original running back who now coaches the position on Pete Carroll’s staff. The team was seeking a back with a more physical style to plug in when leading rusher Marshawn Lynch needs a breather or – worse yet – on those rare occasions when he can’t play.

Smith, among others, thinks they have found just such a complementary back in the 5-foot-10, 222-pound Turbin – whose bulging biceps and boulder-like shoulders look like they should be attached to someone even larger.

So, what is that Smith likes – no, loves – so much about Turbin?

“Let me tell you, in the 18 years of doing interviews (at the NFL Scouting Combine), this kid is the best interview I’ve ever had,” Smith said the other day after one of the workouts in the team’s offseason program.

“Very impressive.”

While players can be coached-up by their agents prior to the process, you can’t force sincerity – especially the kind Turbin displayed in that Combine session with Smith, and his Q&A sessions with reporters in Indianapolis and after he was selected by the Seahawks.

“You can’t fake that stuff,” Smith said. “It’s genuine, what he’s all about.”

And there is a lot to like about Turbin.

On the field, he ran for 1,296 yards, averaged 6.3 yards per carry and scored 18 touchdowns in 2009. After sitting out the 2010 season, because he tore a knee ligament during offseason conditioning, Turbin returned last season to rush for 1,517 yards, average 6.1 yards per carry and score 23 touchdowns.

Off the field, there’s the touching story of how – starting at the age of 8 – he would come home from school and care for his older sister, Tiffany, who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. But we’ve already touched on that story.

Turbin, who will join the rest of the team’s rookies at a minicamp this weekend, is about to venture into the next chapter of his life: Professional football player.

He steps into a crowded backfield. In addition to Lynch, who produced career highs in rushing yards (1,204) and touchdowns (13) last season; there’s change-of-pace back Leon Washington, who averaged 4.7 yards on 53 carries and caught 10 passes last season; and also Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson.

“They work hard. They’re talented players. They take coaching well. They want to be good players,” Smith said. “So all you have to do is give them directions, and they respond to it. It’s a great group of guys.”

But there is a place – and a role – for Turbin.

“Here’s a guy who has a desire to be a great player,” Smith said. “That’s what gets me. It’s the desire that he has, along with the character that backs it up and the work ethic.

“So as impressed as I was with his interview, it’s not just talk with this kid. He has a testimony – a work of proof – to show he wants to be a great one.

“Then you just look at him.”

This brings us back to those biceps. They prompted coach Pete Carroll to utter, “Did you see his pictures from the Combine? Hot dog!” during a draft-day interview on national TV.

Those same arms caused Smith to smile, and then laugh, before he offered, “Unreal. Un-real. Almost as big as mine when I played.”

Smith was joking. But his crush on Turbin is no joke.

“I just talked to him yesterday and that’s what he said, ‘Coach, I want to be great,’ ” Smith said. “So when you get a guy who tells you that, you know you have a chance to get a special player.

“He’s beautiful.”