In the four years that Kobie Turner has advanced from unheralded recruit to potential National Football League draft pick, his dedication to football has not diminished his passion for music.
“My life has been about giving my all to everything,” Turner said. “Everything to football, everything to music.”
Turner, a redshirt senior defensive lineman and captain for the University of Richmond Spiders football team, is a math and music major who grew up around football and music and plans to pursue careers in both.
He is the youngest of four, with two brothers who played football and a sister who was a cheerleader.
“My dad said I was tackling vacuum cleaners since I was two,” Turner said.
Turner grew up in a Christian household and was influenced by the music of his mom’s church choir.
“Music completes me, keeps me sane,” he said.
While most would find it difficult to manage both interests, Turner gives his full commitment to them both.
“When he walks into my studio, I know I have 100% of his time for that hour,” Jennifer Cable, his music professor of three years, said.
UR football’s defensive coordinator, Justin Wood agrees.
Turner admits that at times he feels burned out but he knows he needs to make time for both of his passions to stay complete, he said.
Wood said, “He is going 100 miles per hour, all the time.”
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Wood expressed that Turner’s dedication and preparation are what make him stand out on the field.
“What makes him really special is his work ethic,” Wood said. “He is in here all the time watching film, I think that is what great players do, they study their opponents.”
Turner has been team captain for two years -- he lists it as one of his proudest moments -- but his career at UR almost did not happen.
Originally from Tallahassee, Florida, Turner moved to Northern Virginia, where he attended Centreville High School. While other football players were going on recruiting trips and meeting with coaches, Turner’s focus was on music.
His high school choir director, Lynne Babcock, was a huge influence on him during this impressionable time. While Turner is looking forward to hopefully being selected by an NFL team, he is still intent on a later career as a high school choir director largely because of Babcock’s impact.
“I want to give that same gift to others,” Turner said. “Early on I didn’t really want to be in a choir or anything like that, I thought all musicians were nerds, and then later on I ended up being the biggest music nerd.”
He is a quadruple threat in the world of music. Turner plays the guitar, ukulele and piano with a focus on singing. Music has always been a therapeutic way for him to manage the pressures of being an athlete. On campus he is a member of the a cappella group Choeur du Roi and in high school he played guitar for three hours a day to center himself.
“The one thing I felt I could always come back to to understand myself or my emotions was music,” Turner said.
UR came onto Turner’s radar by chance. He happened to be at his cousin Caleb Brooks’s house when the UR football coaches were there for a recruiting visit. As Turner listened to Brooks -- now a redshirt senior -- from the other room, he became interested in UR. He sent the coaches his tapes and was given the chance to join his cousin on the team as a preferred walk-on.
“My parents said I had one year to get a scholarship, or else I would probably end up at a community college,” Turner said.
“My freshman spring [semester] they told me I was getting a scholarship, that really showed me a lot about who I am,” Turner said. “A lot of athletes come in freshman year and just feel out the year and team but I had to prove myself and attack.”
The benefits of Turner’s dedication and drive are evident in his numerous accolades, including 2021 Second Team All-America and 2021 CAA co-defensive player of the year.
“He’s a complete defensive lineman,” Wood said. “He has developed all of the attributes that make one.”
Wood and Cable both expressed how Turner raises the bar and inspires his peers to perform at their highest level.
“He inspires in the studio, he inspires in the department, in his a cappella group and of course on the field,” Cable said.
Looking back on everything he has accomplished since high school, Turner reflects on a number of influences.
“My successes are a testament to God, to the work I've put in and my coaches and teammates,” Turner said. “I am glad that I bet on myself.”
Contact contributor Alanna Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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