Friends and teammates: Former Utah State stars shining in NFL as Seattle Seahawks
Those things included the deaths of family members and other tragedies they've endured.
Turbin grew up largely without his mom and has helped take care of a sister, Tiffany, who was born with severe cerebral palsy and is paralyzed from the neck down. He watched as another sister, Trina, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and died at 21, and — most recently — faced the unspeakably heart-rending tragedy of losing a beloved brother, Lonnie, who was addicted to heroin and died after being shot at the age of 35.
Wagner, meanwhile, has also faced difficult things. Among them were dealing with the death of his mom, Phenia, while he was a freshman in Logan.
"He went through some tragic things in his life that I was able to relate to, and vice versa — whether it was brothers, sisters, moms, dads, girlfriends, stuff like that," says Turbin. "We were similar in some of those categories, and that brought us together."
Adds Wagner, "He helped me with my personal life issues, and I helped him with his."
At the end of the 2011 season, Wagner, a senior, began to prepare for the NFL Draft, and so did Turbin, who declared himself eligible following a terrific junior season.
Come draft day, neither really considered the possibility of them ending up in the same organization.
"Not for two seconds did I think I would be on the same team because, to be honest with you, I thought I was going to go in the second round," says Turbin. "And when the second round went, I thought for sure the third round. It didn't work out that way for me, but everything happens for a reason. The fact that we both ended up in Seattle, that happened for a reason. That reason I don't know yet. We don't know. But it did, and it's an exciting feeling to get here."
So far, neither has disappointed.
The Seahawks signed free agent Barrett Ruud during the offseason to compete with Wagner for a starting spot at linebacker, but Wagner was so impressive during the preseason that coach Pete Carroll traded Ruud away before the season began.
Wagner hasn't looked back, and with the regular season nearly complete, some are saying he should be the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year. According to fellow linebacker K.J. Wright, the rookie hasn't been fazed by the bright lights of the NFL.
"When these guys draft you, they expect you to come in and do your part and contribute immediately," says Wright. "He's handled the pressure just fine, came up here to play football, and he's got a good career ahead of him."
Fullback Michael Robinson expressed similar sentiments about Turbin.
"He's done a great job," Robinson said. "I don't think people really realize the effect he's had. When Marshawn is having the best season of his career, he's having the best season of his career because he's able to be spelled and be fresh later on in the ballgame.
"Robert has come in and done exactly what they drafted him to do."
Their next challenge? Sustaining this early success, a task infinitely easier to say than do.
The friends, though, believe each other is capable.
"If he goes on to have the career that I know he'll have, which is, in my opinion, greatness — to sum it up in one word — he'll be a 12-year, 13-year, 14-year, 15-year vet getting ready to retire, and they'll look back at his rookie year and say, 'he's been doing it ever since his rookie year at a high level,' " says Turbin.
Wagner hopes the same thing — a long, successful career — for his good friend from Utah State.
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