Monday, August 24, 2009

Breaking the mold | by Pat

Most pre-season football articles follow a familiar pattern. There are the stories about the senior primed for his last shot, the backup looking to finally crack the starting lineup, the prized freshman looking to make an instant impact, etc... It's rather predictable.

Every now and again though, a new one comes along that breaks the mold of what you expect.

Yes, you heard that right. Ben Turk, the 5-foot-11, 193-pound newcomer – the punter, of all people – did twenty-six reps with 225 pounds on the bench.

Twenty-six. That’s not a typo.

“He’s a freak,” said freshman long snapper Jordan Cowart, who was also a teammate of Turk’s at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “He’ll out-bench anybody on the team. They call him 225. He’s got the nickname 225. So yeah, he’s just a freak.”

Just how freaky? Turk’s 26 reps would’ve ranked first at this year’s NFL Combine among specialists, cornerbacks and quarterbacks. He was one short of the leading wide receiver and two back of the best tight end. In fact, Turk would’ve been above the median at every position – even tying for 20th among 50 offensive lineman.

Among those who came up short of the Turk Line were USC standouts Fili Moala (25) and Rey Maualuga (23), as well as Ohio State stars Beanie Wells (25) and James Laurinaitis (22).
Yep, this is the first pre-season "freshman punter is a bench press savant" article. What does it mean for Turk's punting prospects? Probably nothing. If he pushes Maust for playing time in 2009 it will be due to his accuracy and hang-time as a punter, not his bench press. Either way, it was fun to read a pre-season article that didn't go quite according to the usual script.