Turbin's labor of love

Posted Apr 28, 2012

Robert Turbin, the hard-running back the Seahawks selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday, knows there is more to life than football.

The Seahawks had made the last of their 10 picks in the NFL Draft, and general manager John Schneider and Pete Carroll were discussing the speed, versatility and depth they had just added to the roster.

But when it came to one of the seven players they selected on Saturday, character also played a huge role in the decision to draft Utah State running back Robert Turbin.

Sure, Turbin has the physical, even punishing, style that will complement leading rusher Marshawn Lynch and allow the Seahawks to run their run-oriented offense on those occasions when Lynch needs a breather or can’t play. And yes, they got yet another player who answers yet another need with the 11th pick in the fourth round.

But there’s more to this young man than bulging biceps and churning legs.

Since the age of 8, Turbin has helped his father – a single parent – care for his older sister, Tiffany, who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair.

“He’s got great character,” Carroll said after the Q&A session with reporters to recap the players the Seahawks selected the past three days.

“Robert Turbin was the most impressive interview that we did at the combine. He’s got an amazing story and he knocked us out with that. He’s such a complete package that he fits the bill in all areas.”

Turbin takes it in stride. His sister needed help, and his father needed help caring for her.

“She’s in a wheelchair, the only thing she can move is her head,” Turbin said of Tiffany, who is now 33. “My role was to feed her when it was time to feed her and give her water and change diapers and put her to sleep – and pretty much do everything that you would do with a newborn baby.

“That’s pretty much how it was all the time, that’s pretty much how it still is. That was my role. Whenever my dad was gone or at work, when I would come home from school, while I was doing my homework, I would take care of Tiffany.”

There was no tone of “look what I did,” and not a notion of “woe is me,” as Turbin explained his daily routine that started as a third-grader. He discussed caring for his sister like he might describe why a certain running play worked against a certain defense.

But then Tiffany’s situation wasn’t the only trauma in young Robert Turbin’s life. Another of his sisters died when he was only 5.

“I was real young then, I didn’t really understand what was going on,” he explained. “But she’s been a huge inspiration. A lot of stuff motivated me to be a ball player.”

And he became one that was good enough to be selected in the fourth round of the draft.

Turbin was the first player the Seahawks picked on Saturday, but not the last. They also added Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard in the fourth round; Idaho outside linebacker Korey Toomer in the fifth round; Northwestern State (La.) cornerback Jeremy Lane and Kentucky strong safety Winston Guy in the sixth round; and J.R. Sweezy, a defensive tackle from North Carolina State who will be moved to offensive guard, and Louisville defensive end Greg Scruggs in the seventh round.

They joined the three players selected in the first three rounds – West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin, Utah State middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson.

Of the Seahawks’ 10 picks, only three are offensive players – with Wilson a developmental quarterback and Sweezy not only changing positions but sides of the ball.

But this “trend” is nothing new. In their first draft together in 2010, six of the nine players that Schneider and Carroll selected were defensive players. It was the same pattern, same number of picks and same breakdown last year.

“It really truly wasn’t (by design),” Schneider said. “You just have to continue to follow your board all the way through. We try to improve our team the whole way through, but once you start picking by need that’s when you get in trouble.”

Asked about the same thing happening in 2010 and last year, Schneider said, “It’s not anything where we don’t like the offensive players. It’s just the way the draft has fallen. Every time we’ve been getting ready to pick, we’ve had better defensive players for the majority of it.”

In this draft, the Seahawks allowed speed, versatility and one extra-large case of character to determine their picks.

“We’re really excited about the talent we’ve added to this team,” Schneider said. “It was just really a great weekend for us. I couldn’t be more pleased.”