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Cowboys countdown to kickoff: #9 KaVontae Turpin

The Dallas Cowboys face the New York Giants in Week 1. And we’re counting down to it by jersey numbers.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

We’re continuing our countdown to the opening game of the Dallas Cowboys 2023 regular season. Each day we’ll present a new player whose jersey number represents the countdown to opening day. Today is number 9.

WR KaVontae Turpin
Born: 2nd August 1996 (27) - Monroe, Louisiana
College: TCU Horned Frogs
Draft: 2022, UDFA, Dallas Cowboys

2022 Stats:
Snaps: 215
ST Snaps: 152 (32%)
Kickoff Returns: 21
KO Return Yds: 507
Punt Returns: 29
Punt Return Yds: 303
Penalties: 0

KaVontae Turpin joined TCU in 2015 playing in all 13 games during his freshman year and that was also his most productive. He had 45 receptions for 649 yards and scored eight receiving touchdowns. He also scored a touchdown off a punt return and ranked 20th in the nation in kickoff return yards (721). He set school freshman records in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. He also led the team that year in all-purpose yards.

In 2016, Turpin had a limited season due to injuries. He played in eight games with 30 receptions for 295 yards and one receiving touchdown. He also scored a touchdown off a punt return.

The next season saw Turpin play in all 14 games. He was named first-team All-Big 12 as a returner. He was the only player in the country that scored a touchdown off a punt return, a kickoff, as well as a receiver and as a running back. He had 41 receptions for 394 yards as a receiver and rushed for 86 yards with two rushing touchdowns.

In 2018, Turpin ranked second on the team in receptions (29), receiving yards (410) and receiving touchdowns (3). He also returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdown for the second season in a row. He had a 98-yard kickoff return for touchdown against the Oklahoma Sooners. This was his sixth career return (four punts, two kickoffs) for a touchdown, which was a school record and established him as the school’s greatest return specialist.

There was a chance Turpin’s production could have been even higher during his senior season if he hadn’t got dismissed from the team for two domestic violence charges. He eventually pled guilty to a charge and had to go through counseling and probation.

Needless to say this made him undraftable during the 2019 NFL Draft and Turpin looked to find a team in other leagues like the Fan Controlled League (FCF) and European League of Football (ELF).

Cowboys Review:
In the 2022 USFL Draft, Turpin found himself being drafted by the New Jersey Generals. He was named the leagues MVP after an incredible season. He appeared in 10 games and ended the season with 44 receptions for 540 yards (led the league) with four receiving touchdowns (second in the league). He also produced 129 rushing yards with one rushing touchdown, 184 punt return yards and one touchdown return.

This obviously caught the attention of the Cowboys pro-scouting department and after the USFL season ended he was on the move to Texas for a tryout. He signed a contract with Dallas, and without much reprieve from the USFL season, Turpin was immediately taking snaps in the NFL.

He played in the preseason schedule and scored two touchdowns off special team plays as a returner and this placed Turpin in the spotlight very quickly. Although he only made one catch for nine yards last year, it was his skills as a returner that interested coaches and fans the most. He finished 17th in kickoff return yards (507), coming close a couple of times of going all the way. He also finished with 303 punt-return yards which ranked ninth in the league.

2023 Roster Projections:
It’s fair to say that the return role for Turpin isn’t going to change. There are plenty of other options on the roster to take on kickoff and punt return duties, but Turpin still looks to maintain that role since he flashed highly last year. What is interesting is how he’s looked this preseason on the offense and how he’s being deployed. There has been plenty of plays with him catching the ball on the outside, as well as from the slot and on jet-sweeps. This is all aimed toward the idea of Turpin being more involved on offense and the playbook having specific plays targeted for him.

Whether we see it actually happen in a game, Turpin has also been seen taking snaps out the backfield and running drills with the running backs. This could be more to see what he can handle, but also to help him with his ball carrying technique and vision out the backfield which is telling on what’s to come.

Last season, Turpin came out the gates fast but it was clear as the season drew on he looked fatigued. And that’s expected playing in one league and immediately transferring to another with no break. With the offense also able to practice install work with Turpin, they can clearly define a plan for him this year. This all makes for an interesting and intriguing year for Turpin and he should look to be a productive weapon on this Texas Coast offense.

2023 Projected Stats:
Snaps: 266
Targets: 50
Receptions: 39
Receiving Yards: 168
Touchdowns: 1
Punt Returns: 36
Punt Ret Yds: 378
Kickoff Returns: 27
Kickoff Ret Yds: 659
Return TDs: 1

The Big Question:
How many total touchdowns do you think KaVontae Turpin will score? Answer in the comments.

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