Hawaii running back Calvin Turner primed for big draft year heading into 2021 college football season


Calvin Turner

With no players with Hawaii ties getting selected in the NFL Draft for the first time since 2018, UH running back Calvin Turner is primed to make sure it doesn’t happen again in 2022.

Turner was eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft but decided to remain in school for his second senior season, with a goal of raising his draft stock higher this fall.

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Following Hawaii’s spring game on Friday in which Turner was the team’s top offensive performer with 147 yards from scrimmage, both the star running back and ‘Bows head coach Todd Graham agreed that a spring practice to install new concepts has benefitted his repertoire greatly.

“It gave us a time to get more comfortable with each other and know what everyone can do,” Turner said of spring ball. “Last year we were literally thrown into the fire, we didn’t know what players could do. I felt like it helped a lot, having these practices and building that team camaraderie and being together and just having that time together.”

Turner, who was a quarterback at Jacksonville University for three years, has lined up at running back, receiver, wildcat quarterback, and kick and punt returner during his time with the Rainbow Warriors.

“Calvin is special, he’s a special playmaker,” Graham said. “He can be as special a player as I’ve ever coached. … He’s deceptively fast. It’s hard to put exactly what his skillset is. He is the best combination of a receiver/running back hybrid that I’ve ever been around. He is very, very explosive. We’re very fortunate to have him. There’s not a player in our league that I think that’s more explosive and I believe he’s one of the most explosive players in the country.

“It makes logical sense but there’s a lot of volume of football that it takes to have a mastery of route running, have a mastery of receiver play, have a mastery playing running back and then we switch those guys some. We’re switching him and Chevan (Cordeiro), and Chevan has a ton of skillset we haven’t tapped (into) yet.”

Turner’s NFL dreams were close enough to contemplate turning pro last winter. On Thursday, a former high school opponent in Jamin Davis was picked 19th overall by the Washington Football Team, giving Turner another reminder of what could be coming his way in due time. With one year standing between him and a potentially life-changing call, Turner sees no point in stopping the pursuit of something he can almost taste.

“Just seeing the players that’s getting drafted, actually a guy I played in high school got drafted in the first round, just seeing that gives you hope and just makes you want to go harder because you know that one day, that could be you,” Turner said. “As long as you put one more season together, I just feel like I’m so close that it just motivates me to go even harder.”

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