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Countdown to Colts: Defensive End Kemoko Turay

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NCAA Football: Michigan State at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Last Wednesday, No. 57 Kemoko Turay celebrated his 23rd birthday. Today, we celebrate only 57 days until Colts’ football in the next edition of our countdown series and the chance to get a closer look at the shiny new toy to be implemented in the Indianapolis front seven.


The Journey

A four-year athlete at Rutgers University, Turay saw action in 58 games — 11 of which came his freshman year. In his first year Turay notched 24 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and one pass deflection. His sack total still stands as the seventh-highest season total in the Big Ten. He’d take a few steps back in 2015 and 2016 — mostly due to injury — and would total a combined 12 tackles, five tackles for loss, and four sacks. He also had the lone interception of his career and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

After returning to full health in time for his senior campaign, Turay burst onto the scene with a 60 tackle — six for loss — three sack and two fumble recovery season. Bigger than the pure numbers on the field, his ability to remain healthy all season and play in 12 games was a huge step forward for his potential future career.

After trading back from the 49th pick in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft to pick No. 52, the Indianapolis Colts selected Turay with their third pick of the week. Turay signed a four-year deal on May 11.


The Fit on the Roster

The youngest pure defensive end on the Colts’ roster, Turay is also the lone rookie of the bunch. The measurables are enticing to say the least, as his 6-foot-5-inch, 253-pound frame that ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at the 2018 NFL Combine already makes him one of the more freakier athletes at the position.

The rawness of Turay puts him behind the obvious starters at the defensive end position, and maybe behind some of the younger ends who’ve already spent time refining their tools at the NFL level. His time making an impact off the edge will come in due time, but don’t be surprised if it takes a little while for him to get to that point.


Moving Forward

While I think there’s immense potential to be tapped into, Turay will have to work his way through the ranks to land as a starter in the future. Jabaal Sheard is coming off a tremendous season at outside linebacker and, while he is switching to defensive end in the newly implemented 4-3 scheme, he has plenty of experience with his hand in the dirt. John Simon and Tarell Basham, also natural fits in the 4-3 defense, are also more polished than the raw prospect Turay.

A large part of Turay’s rookie season will be dependent on the early success of the Colts. If the team is in a surprising position to compete, his time on the field will be limited in favor to those who are more poised to help the team win now. If the season is clearly a wash by week seven or eight, Turay should see more time toward the conclusion of the season in order to get him necessary reps in the NFL.