by Alex Poletti
Photo by AJ Mast/Associated Press
In a day at the NFL combine marked by Henry Ruggs’ 4.27-second 40-yard dash and Jalen Hurts’ all-around impressive showing, the spotlight was stolen by Arizona State punter Michael Turk, who wowed scouts and fans alike by knowing what a bench press is.
“Oh, I’ve seen one of those before,” Turk says, haplessly wandering around Lucas Oil Stadium. “That’s a—damn, what did they call it—oh, a bench press right? Yeah, they have one of those in the gym I think.”
With that impressive showing Turk immediately sky-rocketed to the best punting prospect in the draft. A transfer from Lafayette, Turk impressed in the desert, with 21 of his punts going for over 50 yards.
“Based on his performance today, you can see that he has the potential to make an impact in the NFL,” Jon Carr, director of college scouting for the New York Jets, says. “The projectability is there. If today, he is recognizing a bench press, it’s likely that after a year of training he will be doing a rep or two.”
Turk’s head-turning day didn’t end there, though. The Sun Devil went above and beyond, spewing information about the bench press, including intricate details about the workings of the exercise.
“I think you sit down and then bring the bar to your chest, yeah?” Turk says to the awe-struck scouts around him. “Then you push it out. I think it works your chest and arms. You can even put weights on the side of the bar to make it heavier. I think that’s a pretty nifty design.”
Punters and kickers are hardly ever taken in the NFL draft, usually getting signed as undrafted free agents when a kicker goes down mid-season. However, Turk’s combine has scouts wondering if he’ll make the leap.
“If you compare him to other prospects, even top prospects, I think he measures up,” Cardinals college scouting director Chris Culmer says. “I mean, unlike Tua, he has a working hip. That’s a bonus.”
It’s likely that Turk will have a job somewhere in the NFL next year, though it may not be in the obvious role, if the Denver Broncos have their way.
“We’re looking at him as the next general manager,” Broncos owner Pat Bowlen says. “He was able to accurately recognize a bench press. That’s more than John Elway is able to recognize at a combine.”