One of the most disappointing things for football fans during the long summer months following the NFL Draft is that most news about their favorite teams is speculative, outside of new contract or injury news. The greatest portion of the learning process for young players is something fans are not a part of and rarely get a glimpse of what goes into the development of a player.
The Indianapolis Colts have particularly active summers with rookies, as they are highly successful getting young players acclimated to the NFL and getting the most out of their draft picks and undrafted free agents. One such player who could be joining a long list of Indy undrafted success stories is Thad Turner, cornerback out of Ohio University.
Fans may have had an opportunity to get to know Turner by watching his highlight reels on YouTube, or by looking up his stats in college. What they do not get a chance to see is who Turner really is, who helped him develop, who he might hang out with around the Colts training facilities, or who he might spend the most time with on or off of the field. Turner was gracious enough to take the time to speak with Coltzilla to give fans an insight into who he is, and an idea of what it might actually be like to be in the shoes of one of the players working hard this summer with hopes of beginning an NFL career.
As a quick background, Turner is 5-foot 11-inches tall, 188 pounds, 23 years old, and grew up in Marietta, Georgia. Turner will tell you the rest, himself.
BM: Who influenced you most growing up, helping you develop your competitive spirit?
TT: My family is a very competitive one. I’m the youngest of four children and all of us got full scholorships in sports. My oldest brother Tim got drafted out of high school and Jr year in college for baseball at East Tennessee State, he also played WR there. My sister, Tiffany, got a scholarship in track and field at Georgia Tech. Thomas, my other brother, got a baseball scholarship at Georgia Southern. My brothers and I would compete in absolutely everything rather we are racing to get the front seat in the car or playing a pick up game of basketball. So to say the least I took my fare share of losses being the youngest.
BM: Which coaches or players pushed you hardest as you were developing?
TT: I’ve been blessed to be surrounded with a lot of great coaches. All of my high school coaches, I show a great deal of gratitude for helping me getting a scholarship. Once I got to college and changed positions to corner I had actually never played any defense, so Coach Brown (now head coach at Div II, Missouri S&T) the position coach taught me everything starting from the very basics of back pedaling.
BM: The Colts have only three proven corners on the roster at the moment, how does this affect you as you work for your opportunity?
TT: That was a big part of my decision on signing with the Colts after the draft. I feel that this is the ideal situation for me to not only make the team but impact it positively anyway that I can.
BM: Since arriving in Indianapolis, what part of the experience was the biggest shock?
TT: There hasn’t been too many shocks since being in Indianapolis, other than me realizing that what I thought was good coverage in college is not that good in the pros. Peyton Manning is perfect and if you are not in perfect coverage he will complete the pass. Also, the level of play is extremely greater than college and speed of the game is significantly faster.
BM: How intense is the work every day? When you’re not on the field or in the weight room, what do you spend the bulk of your time doing?
TT: OTA’s was pretty intense because there was a lot to learn in a short period of time. Physically it hasn’t been too bad. Coach Caldwell is big on having well rested players, which helps a lot, so that time on the field is time well spent. However, like I said, mentally it is strenuous enough. Fortunately, I feel I have a good grasp of the playbook so that I can focus on the physical aspect of the game. Off the field I don’t really do much but I was able to experience the Indy 500 for the first time, which was exciting and my first car race of any kind. After the final practice on the Friday before the race I got the opportunity to ride in the pace car.
BM: When you have to break out of the studying/working out parts of developing, what do you do for fun?
TT: I’m actually very bored most of the time. It’s not like college where I’m busy with class work or friends are easily accessible. Here it’s work and back home, and a lot of my teammates have families and such when I do not even have a girlfriend currently.
BM: Who have you grown closest to since arriving in Indianapolis?
TT: Brandon King and I have linked up a little and hang out from time to time. We are in very similar situations and both from Georgia and ended up knowing some of the same people.
BM: Which Colts player has reached out to help you develop the most?
TT: Melvin Bullitt. He always takes the time to answer my questions no matter what it is and even goes out of his way to make sure I understand.
Coltzilla would like to extend a big thank you to Thad for taking the time out of his schedule and life to respond to our questions. We wish him the best of luck as he works for a spot on the roster.
Please take the time to enjoy the videos that follow and show Thad some support. He is on Facebook and will be given a link to this article. We hope you show him some love in the comments as well.