Clackamas graduate Cole Turner looks ahead to NFL draft
Cole Turner is poised.
He's poised and ready, anticipating the next momentous step in his young life.
And if he's right about what's ahead, he's on the verge of a career in the National Football League.
Turner, 22 and a 2018 graduate of Clackamas High School — he helped lead the Cavaliers to a Class 6A state championship in 2017 — finished his senior season at the University of Nevada with a flourish. He was named to the all-Mountain West Conference second team after finishing with 10 touchdowns (tied for second most in the country among tight ends) and 677 receiving yards (eighth most in the nation among tight ends).
Now, he's looking for a job in the NFL.
"I'm feeling really good about my chances," Turner said. "I feel like I had a good season and then I went to all the major pre-draft showings and I feel like I did well so I'm liking where I'm at going into (the draft)."
The 2022 NFL draft is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, April 28-30, in Las Vegas, and Turner — a 6 -foot-6, 246-pounder — believes his body of work at Nevada and the following pre-draft events have put him in a solid position.
Additional senior-season highlights included: Turner made a career-high 12 catches for a career-high 175 yards against Hawaii on Oct. 16, 2021; he caught two touchdowns four times over the course of the season; and he was invited to the Reese's Senior Bowl, joining teammates Romeo Doubs and Carson Strong to send a trio of Nevada football players to the Senior Bowl for the first time in history.
As a first-team all-MWC pick in 2020, Turner accomplished the following: He tied for the team and MWC lead with nine touchdown catches; he finished second on the team with 49 catches and 605 receiving yards; he made seven catches for 119 yards — including two TDs — against Wyoming; and he finished with five catches for 60 yards (including two TDs) against Tulane at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
NFL.com shares of number of insights about Turner — both positive and negative — as well as all his times/scores from the NFL Combine. Here's a portion of the site's overview analysis of Turner.
"He's a pass-catching tight end who needs to hit the weights and add necessary functional strength to play through contact. He has talent but is inconsistent finishing difficult catches and needs to prove he can become a legitimate every-down catch threat against NFL defenders and not just a height mismatch in the red zone."
Regardless of what any draft predictions or experts say, Turner remains steadfast in his ability and confident of his chances.
"I'm definitely expecting to be drafted, hopefully by day two if not early on the third day," he said. "But wherever I get a chance or opportunity, I'll be super thankful. I just want to make the most of the opportunity, wherever I go. … As long as I get the opportunity, that's all I can really ask."
His high school coach, Joe Bushman (now the head coach at Lewis & Clark College), is confident of Turner's ability as well as his character.
"I cannot say enough good things about Cole Turner as a player, student and high character kid," Bushman said. "He was so integral to the run we had at Clackamas culminating in the state championship.
"(He's) one of the hardest workers I have been around. Great in the weight room and constantly perfecting his craft. Whenever we needed a big play, Cole came through — he is the essence of a clutch performer."
Right now, Turner's life is a whirlwind. His days — some with his parents in Oregon, some in Reno and some in California — are spent making contact with NFL teams and coaches, working out for various teams, continuing his improvement as a blocker and working to improve his times in the 40-yard dash and short shuttle.
"I've met with the Bengals, the Broncos, I've spoken with the Cowboys, I met with the Cardinals at the combine and I (worked out) for Washington so I would say those teams (have shown the most interest)," he said. "And then you just wait until your name gets called."
Wherever he lands in the upcoming draft, Turner knows that he's in a very special position, especially for an athlete from Oregon.
"I talked about that with my dad before and my mom and I'm definitely lucky to be in the spot I'm at," he said. "There's been examples (of Oregon players in the NFL), but it's not that many. I didn't really think about it too much growing up until I got around a bunch of my friends from California where that happens more often. I'm thankful and blessed to be able to represent for the state and especially Clackamas."
Bushman predicts big things ahead for the former Cavalier star.
"(I) have the utmost confidence that he will make it in the NFL and have a successful career," Bushman said.
And now, for the next few days, Turner will just keep grinding, working, improving, learning — and hoping.
"I've got no preference for where I'm going to be, I just want to get there," he added. "I just want to be the best player I can be, ball out and do what I've always done — to make the most out of the opportunities I get."
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