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Kemoko Turay’s path to NFL began with father’s blessing

Not when the football coaches entered his clothing tailor shop in New Jersey. Not during the first 80 minutes the coaches sat in his house putting their sales pitch on him.

Vakaba Turay was not going to let his son, Kemoko, who had only briefly flirted with football as a high school freshman, return to the sport during his senior year of high school. Kemoko was a basketball player. Football, according to the West Africa-born Vakaba, was too dangerous of a sport.

But after one colossal promise, an athletic scholarship offer without having any game film and a college graduation, the pass-rushing Kemoko was one of the Indianapolis Colts’ four second-round picks in last spring’s draft.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“I was the first person in my family to graduate,” Turay said. “My dad has been a tailor for 45 years. My mom braided hair. It was a struggle for us growing up. We had no electricity. We used to bathe ourselves out of pots because we didn’t pay our water bill. I couldn’t have a job because my mom always wanted me to stay focused in school and not be distracted. So I did that. She always said sports and school is your job. I feel blessed to be where I am, especially when you think about the road I took to get here. But it’s only the start. I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Hard work could pay off for Turay because the opportunity to play as a rookie will be there. The Colts have desperately been looking for a pass-rusher since Robert Mathis had 19.5 sacks in 2013, and general manager Chris Ballard has repeatedly said they need to be able to dominate on the offensive and defensive lines. The Colts are switching to a 4-3 defense under new coordinator Matt Eberflus.2

“I’m a very flexible guy when it comes to talent,” Turay said. “If they need me as a pass-rusher or if they need me at end. If they need me as a pass dropper, everything. I’m bringing everything to my plate. I’m going to work on everything — a new craft and everything. I have a great support system that work on me.”

Some people have dreams of playing in the NFL at a young age. Their rooms are lined with posters of their favorite players and closets full of jerseys while their parents spend countless dollars matching them with the best trainers, coaches and high schools with the goal of one day reaching the NFL.

The thought of playing a varsity high school football game, let alone in the NFL, never crossed his mind. His prior football experience was when he played in a handful of games while on the freshman team at East Orange (New Jersey) High School. It wasn’t until the spring of his junior year while as a member of the Barringer (New Jersey) High School track and field team that an assistant coach broached the idea of playing football to him.

“Kemoko comes out to the track and I immediately start wondering where the hell has this kid been,” said Nhemie Theodore, who was an assistant track and football coach at Barringer. “He’s 6-4, skinny, but he’s long and has big hands. It was clear right away that he had incredible athletic ability. He kept saying he didn’t want to play football. He’s a basketball player and he only did track for fun and that his parents didn’t like football.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Theodore wouldn’t take no for an answer from Turay. He borderline pestered Turay every opportunity he had. Theodore guaranteed the soon-to-be senior he would get a scholarship if he played football. He was so confident he went as far as to tell Turay that if he didn’t get a football scholarship he would pay his tuition to any college in the country.