Heading into the TCU-Texas game in Fort Worth, I had mentioned I was worried that Trevone Boykin could be heading towards troubled waters due to his reliance on Josh Doctson. Coming out of the 50-7 routing of the Longhorns, that concern has been settled thanks to true freshman KaVontae Turpin.
Turpin sounded off for 168 yards and four touchdowns on six catches. He already had two scores to his name before the game, but he tripled his output in just one day. Considering this came against a Texas defense that is equivalent to a sinking boat with only a Dixie cup to bail the water out, this could be a fluke performance. But his sheer athleticism and intangibles makes me confident this won’t be the last time his name is plastered on game recaps.
What makes some people nervous that this is a one-time showing is his size. Standing at 5’9″, 152 pounds, he doesn’t instill much confidence in people as his three-star recruit rating (two-star according to some outlets). But I’m sure you’ve seen the Tide commercials featuring similarly height handicapped players that have made it to the NFL — the likes of Darren Sproles and Cole Beasley. It’s far too soon to prognosticate Turpin’s prospects as a professional, but he’s already proved that his height hasn’t stopped him from reaching the collegiate level.
Hailing from Monroe, La.,Turpin earned TCU’s attention after an invitation to the 2014 Dallas Nike Football Training Camp where he showed off his quick first step to burn defenders with a vertical advantage over him, something he continually showcased while at Monroe High School — not only on the gridiron but on the basketball court as well.
Leading his team to the state championship his senior year, Turpin was named to the All-State Louisiana football team after totaling 1,928 all-purpose yards, including 904 rushing and 724 receiving yards, and 29 touchdowns in his high school career. He was also named to the second-team All-State in basketball after averaging 15.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. For someone that can’t reach the six foot on his toes, it’s remarkable to see him have such accolades considering both sports are notoriously controlled by the big man.
What it shows is Turpin is a scrappy player, a player that parallels Sproles, and not exclusively due to a shared height disadvantage.
Reviewing his Hudl game footage — like Sproles during his time at Kansas State — Turpin showed ability to play across the field. He was used in the backfield and split the seam, rarely touched with his breakaway speed. But even with his lack of height, his coaches found a way to line him up wide and get the quarterback to deliver the ball through the air. It wasn’t just seam routes running past defenders with his 4.40 speed either. His highlight reel shows consistent field and ball awareness. I’ll direct you to 1:40 into his senior highlight tape where he perfectly stops to catch an underthrown cross route and fakes out the entire secondary to run in for a 58-yard score.
It was commonplace for him to take a five yard run into a 60 yard score after juking out half of the defense and then run past the rest. I can’t help but compare him to TCU’s Aaron Green, one of the more agile runners in the conference.
Yes, those are only highlights that don’t tell the whole story of his play. Recruiters may have seen some flaws in his game that gave pause to giving him an offer (Texas Tech and TCU were the two power programs to offer him. But in all likelihood, the concern surrounded his size more than anything. Gary Patterson looked past that and now he may have found his version of Tech’s Jakeem Grant who’s becoming the leading receiver for the Red Raiders.
If there are a lot of inconsistencies in his game, they haven’t been made apparent and there’s not too much to worry about considering all the attention Doctson receives from defenses. Turpin can keep working on his one step routes that propelled him to freshman of the week honors.
And in a conference that seems to be allergic to tackling, Turpin has the ability to keep producing similarly productive performances.