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Kemoko Turay's path to the 2018 NFL draft: Part 1

Rutgers defensive end and NFL draft prospect Kemoko Turay will share his journey to the pros with Metro New York in this exclusive blog.
Kemoko Turay. (Photo: Getty Images)

Following a fantastic Senior Bowl, defensive end Kemoko Turay is becoming a fast riser up the draft boards of many teams. A four-year starter at Rutgers, Turay produced some big moments with the Scarlet Knights including a blocked field goal in 2014 during his redshirt freshman season, a moment that gave Rutgers a huge home win over Michigan in their first year in the Big Ten Conference.

Last season, Turay had 65 tackles including five sacks and seven tackles-for-loss in his final season at Rutgers. This performance along with his strong showing all week at the Senior Bowl has made him a hot topic and one of the most popular names to emerge from the showcase.

Turay will be providing Metro with an exclusive blog throughout the draft process as he emerges from the Senior Bowl and now looks ahead to the NFL Combine:

 

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Without a doubt, the Senior Bowl is one fantastic set-up, a real opportunity not just to showcase my talent but to meet with teams. It’s a busy week but a tremendous chance to learn about different teams as they, in turn, learn about me.

The schedule is intense, to say the least.

Being from Rutgers, one of the big things that we are taught is about time management. The program is very detail oriented in that regard and it is something we hang our hat on. During a week like the Senior Bowl, that mentality is really paying off as I transition from college to a career the NFL.

In life, you have moments where you have to be all-in, have to take advantage and really have your focus. To be successful in the NFL, you have to keep that mentality throughout. I wanted to show that at the Senior Bowl.

I would wake up around 5:15 in the morning – this even though we didn’t have to be down for breakfast until about three hours later. I’d wake up in the morning and pray as my Muslim faith is an important part of who I am. Then I’d take time to stretch and roll-out in the room before heading down to breakfast. You want to take a week like this seriously and I wanted to maximize every minute possible.

It’s about making good decisions, about maximizing the possibility and the opportunity that is handed to you.

My roommate during the week was another pass rusher, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. I was impressed with him as a player and a person. It was great getting to know him during the week and see how selfless he was during the process. I look forward to seeing what he does in the NFL.

After breakfast, you’d meet with different scouts and general managers for a bit. The whole week is about networking. You meet with all these NFL teams, they are on the field watching you during practice. They talk and meet, both formal and casual. I met with a lot of teams, most of the teams around the league I’d say. They were familiar with me from Rutgers and playing in the Big Ten.

It is definitely unique though, being coached by the Broncos during Senior Bowl week and being able to take advantage of NFL coaching. There’s a lot to learn and process.

After some time for meetings, we had a team meeting followed by a short break. Around 12:30 p.m. we’d have practice. This is a unique chance to learn and grow as a player. In turn, you are under this microscope. Teams are watching to see you, to see if you fit into their system.

It’s difficult to block everything out but you have to just focus on being you, on playing the game. It’s different knowing that scouts and teams are watching you practice.

You hear teams tell you that the practices that week at the Senior Bowl are important, perhaps even more important than the game itself. They really get to see and watch you up close. Not just technique but also how hard you work.

There are film sessions and more meetings that afternoon and evening.

It was different than college. You can’t miss anything, you have to really pay attention. You have to have tunnel vision, you can’t blink.

This is a job now, they try to ingrain that in your head. You have to stay focused.

After dinner, there are even more team meetings.

These team meetings are all about getting to know you as a person, get the real low-down on you. I wanted to go out there and be myself and be truly honest.

They’ll ask you questions to understand your personality, some want to take in your knowledge of the game. I got asked about different schemes and my understanding of what my role would be in how they line up. It’s all about trying to see your knowledge of the game and if you understand the role or the concept.

At the NFL level, teams want to make sure you are willing to study, that you’re a student of the game. You can’t get by on being bigger, faster and stronger, you have to not just love football but you have to be willing to love the art of football. To know and understand the game as a student, to be willing to throw yourself into the game, the ins and outs, to help whatever team drafts you.

Now I get ready for the NFL Combine. My workouts down here in Florida are intense. There are interview preps and good diets.

I’ll tell you, I’m eating more greens than I ever did in my life. I didn’t know there are so man types of cabbage. It is good though. And broccoli isn’t bad.

The lifts and workouts push you and then the positional work, getting better as a pass rusher, really pushes you. I’m enjoying it though.

And on the flip side, I hope you enjoyed this look at my life as I ready for the NFL draft. It’s been quite a ride but I’m loving every minute of it.

Even the cabbage.  

 
 
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