Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Monson: NFL is now a better place thanks to Utah State
NFL » Aggie draftees Wagner, Turbin, Smith happy they were part of USU’s turnaround.

By Gordon Monson

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Apr 30 2012 02:34 pm • Last Updated Aug 28 2012 11:31 pm

"I think he’d be going backward."

That was the response Bobby Wagner once gave when he was asked what would happen if teammate Robert Turbin was coming through a hole in the line and Wagner jumped in to meet him head on, one on one, just the two of them.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The linebacker laughed when he said it.

When Turbin was told of his friend’s response, the running back had a different opinion. It was something like, "I don’t know. I think he’d end up on his back."

He laughed, too.

There’s no way to know, with any certainty, which Aggie was right and which was wrong, but as Seattle Seahawks, in some scrimmage, sometime, somewhere, they may yet give us an answer. It doesn’t really matter because, turns out, they’re both going forward. The two pillars of a rebuilt Utah State football program will now continue their careers as teammates in Seattle, Wagner drafted in the second round and Turbin in the fourth.

And how can this not be a feel-good story?

It can’t.

Making the whole thing even better is that their Aggie teammate, Michael Smith, was also drafted, taken in the seventh round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Compare that with Utah, which had only one player, Tony Bergstrom, drafted and BYU, which had no one selected, and it speaks highly of Gary Andersen’s effort to give new breath to a long-dormant football program.

"It means a lot," Turbin said. "It shows that Utah State is rising, as we should and as we planned. There will be more good players to come out in years to come."


story continues below
story continues below

It speaks well of Turbin, Wagner and Smith that they always cared about Utah State football, beyond just their own prowess. Turbin said one of the major reasons he went to Logan, beyond the fact that USU was one of the only schools that wanted him as a running back, was because he saw himself lifting the whole thing to a better place.

"It was the kind of team I wanted to be on — to help them turn the page, to help them become a winning team," he once told me.

And that’s exactly what happened.

After his last game with the Aggies in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Wagner said he took great satisfaction in what had been accomplished at Utah State, the new foundation of winning, the new positive attitude, that had been generated there: "We turned the program around. I’m proud to be a part of that."

Smith, who was the MVP of the bowl, having run for 157 yards and two touchdowns, also glanced away from himself and back at the players and program: "Hopefully, they’ll go on winning even more in the future. Hopefully, they’ll have better running backs here next season."

These were guys who openly broke down and bawled like newborns when they found out Utah State had been invited to its first bowl in years.

During a September interview with Turbin, the running back recalled all the challenges he had faced in his life: growing up poor, having an absentee mother, a troubled brother, a paralyzed sister who couldn’t speak, for whom he often cared at the family’s home, and another sister who was struck with multiple sclerosis before dying at the age of 21.

He absorbed all of that, watching the example of his father, who kept working to support his family and kept hope alive, come what may, in his son.

"Over the course of my life, I’ve learned to be humble and thankful for the things I have, to appreciate what I’ve got while I’ve got it," Turbin said. "And to remember my family and be grateful."

After Wagner was drafted, he called it "a blessing and an honor," and he thanked everybody at Utah State.

The Aggies should take pride in having three players picked in the NFL Draft, but they should also be proud of the caliber of people they are sending into a world that desperately needs them.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.