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NFL Combine: Utah State University duo hoping to turn some heads

Published February 22, 2012 11:44 pm

NFL combine • Turbin and Wagner are there with U.'s Shelby and Cullen, plus Y.'s Reynolds.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Robert Turbin won't tell you how fast he runs the 40-yard dash.

He will, however, tell you what his worst time is — 4.65. And he will tell you that he's gotten significantly better since then.

The rest? Well, you'll just have to follow him this week in Indianapolis.

Turbin and Utah State teammate Bobby Wagner are at the NFL Draft Combine, which began on Wednesday and runs through Tuesday. It's a series of running, jumping, lifting, pass-catching and question-and-answer sessions that amounts to a weeklong physical and mental interview in front of representatives of all 32 NFL teams.

For Turbin and Wagner, this is a unique opportunity. Before last year, when Curtis Marsh represented the Aggies, Utah State was pretty much a non-factor at this event.

But according to nfldraftscout.com, Wagner is a projected second-round pick, while Turbin is a projected fourth-rounder. Both have a chance for long and lucrative careers at the next level.

"This is a big week for me," Turbin said. "A lot of things go into this week that can raise or drop the stock of a player. So performing well here will be big. This is a huge week."

Altogether, five local players will attend the combine. Offensive tackle Matt Reynolds of BYU will be there. So will Utah defensive end Derrick Shelby and offensive lineman John Cullen.

Of the five in-state prospects, Wagner appears to be the most highly rated. He's ranked the fifth-best outside linebacker overall, and could be potentially the highest USU draft pick since, well, Marsh — who was taken in the third round last season by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Turbin has a lot to gain. Scouts compare his upper body to Alabama superstar Trent Richardson. They love his running between the tackles, his pass blocking and his pass catching. But they also have questions about his breakaway speed and his durability coming off two major injuries. In that sense, his 40-time will be a huge indicator on where he could end up.

Both would like to show that, like Marsh and receiver Kevin Curtis before them, these Aggies are good enough to play in the NFL.

"We want to go there and show that guys from small schools can play," Wagner said. "This is a dream come true and it's an honor to go there and represent Utah State. I'm going to give this everything I've got."

Reynolds has long been thought of as one of the best tackles in the country. He's currently projected as a fifth-rounder. Shelby has value as a defensive end with the speed to turn the corner and get to the quarterback. Of the five, Cullen has the lowest stock — a projected seventh-round pick.

Utah has had success in the past from their defensive linemen, as Koa Misi and Paul Kruger have each made a significant impact in the NFL.

Of recent Utah offensive linemen, Zane Beadles has stood out for his work with the Denver Broncos, which could help Cullen in terms of reputation.

tjones@sltrib.com

NFL Draft Combine

When • Began Wednesday, runs through Tuesday

Where • Indianapolis

Locals • RB Robert Turbin and LB Bobby Wagner, Utah State; OL John Cullen and DE Derrick Shelby, Utah; OL Matt Reynolds, BYU