It’s not every day that you have 3-time NFL defensive player of the year Aaron Donald complimenting the way you play football.
Such was the case for former University of Richmond defensive lineman Kobie Turner, ‘21, who garnered some notable attention after his performance in the Los Angeles Rams’ 37-14 victory over the Arizona Cardinals Nov. 26.
“[Turner’s] just playing with confidence, being productive, flying around, playing fast, doing all the things you want to see as a young player, or a player period,” Donald said in a Nov. 30 press conference, speaking to Turner’s performance. “I think he’s just playing some good football right now. He play hard and he find a way to get to the ball.”
Turner, who was taken by the Rams in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, picked up 2 sacks and four tackles while playing nose tackle in the Rams’ win against the Cardinals. His play made him a finalist for the Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week for Week 12 of the NFL season.
Turner’s 2 sacks against the Cardinals brought his sack total to 4 in just 11 career games played for the Rams. On the season, he’s also tallied 42 tackles.
“I think just the relentless effort that [Turner] plays with snap in and snap out, the versatility across the front, knowledge of the game, production in both the run and rushing the passer,” Rams Head Coach Sean McVay said in a press conference Nov. 29, speaking to what impressed him about Turner.
Before becoming a defensive stalwart for the Rams, Turner spent five seasons with the Spiders. Following his fifth season at UR, Turner transferred to Wake Forest University for his final season of collegiate eligibility.
At UR, Turner, who studied mathematics and music and sang in two of UR’s musical groups – Schola Cantorum and Choeur Du Roi – picked up 158 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks. He also forced 4 fumbles – 3 of which he returned – and scored 2 touchdowns.
In one season with the Demon Deacons, Turner had 38 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 1 fumble return.
“When you get to meet [Turner], this is a special person that has a lot of different things going for him in a positive way,” McVay said in the press conference. “Very cerebral, very smart, very worldly. You see the conductor when he’s doing the sacks. The guys love that. And he is refreshingly so secure in who he is. And his teammates love him. You can’t help but root for a guy like this, and he’s played really good football for us and I think he’s only getting better.”
Whenever Turner sacks the opposing team’s quarterback, he faces the stands and moves his hands in the air as if he’s conducting an imaginary orchestra, hence why his nickname is “The Conductor.”
According to Turner, this all started in 2019 at UR, hanging in the locker room with his teammates.
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“After practice, listening to music, and one of the guys was like ‘Yo, that’s it. Do it for your next celebration’” Turner said in an interview Dec. 1. “So, I did it for the next one, and they’re like, ‘the conductor.’”
From there, Turner said it stuck, and he’s had the name associated with him ever since.
“It shows we’re more than just athletes,” Turner said. “And that music side of me is so important and it helps me on game day, it helps me all the time. And so, just to be able to show off both, the full totality of myself, and hopefully other guys can see that and be like, ‘I can be whoever I am and I can still be a good football player and still go and get the job done on Sundays or Saturdays or whenever they’re playing.’”
The Rams’ next game is against the Cleveland Browns at 4:25 p.m. Dec. 3. The Rams, whose record sits at 5-6 with six games remaining on the season, will try to make a playoff push in the coming weeks, much like Turner’s alma mater did earlier this year.
After winning its seventh-straight game against North Carolina Central University Nov. 25, UR will take on the University at Albany at 12 p.m. Dec. 2., looking for a win that would give the Spiders their first trip to the FCS quarterfinals since 2016.
Contact sports editor Jimmy James at email@example.com.
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