#TurpinTime struck late Sunday evening as the Dallas Cowboys were routing the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. The former TCU wide receiver and special teams dynamo took a carry into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, helping the Cowboys clinch a 40-0 decimation of the Giants to start the 2023 NFL season. Turpin had three carries for 14 yards along with two catches for 11 yards for the Cowboys in the victory.
It was the first career NFL touchdown for Turpin, who signed with the Cowboys last season after playing in the USFL and earning the MVP award with the New Jersey Generals. Turpin primarily handled special teams duties for the Cowboys last season, but the former Horned Frog appeared primed for a much larger role in the offense after the departure of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and skill players including running back Ezekiel Elliott and tight end Dalton Schultz. The 27-year-old Turpin may have only nine touches for 51 yards over the last two seasons, but as many TCU fans know, he’s a threat to break loose whenever he has the ball in his hands. Turpin averaged 24.2 yards per kick return and 10.4 yards per punt return last season, which ranked seventh among kick returners with at least 20 attempts and seventh among punt returners with at least 20 attempts.
Turpin’s professional career has taken many turns since he was dismissed from the TCU football program in October 2018 after an arrest on an assault charge. Turpin held his own Pro Day workout since he was unable to participate in the TCU Pro Day in 2019, clocking in with a 40-yard dash time of 4.31 seconds. The speedy receiver and return specialist went undrafted, however, and did not receive an opportunity to compete professionally until signing with the Frisco Fighters of the Indoor Football League (IFL) in 2020. Turpin never saw the field with the team, though, as the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19.
98-yard kickoff return TD ✅— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) August 21, 2022
86-yard punt return TD ✅
KaVontae Turpin is having himself a night and it's not even halftime pic.twitter.com/42SkSSQTCA
Turpin made several stops in 2021 including with the Glacier Boyz of the Fan Controlled Football (FCF) League as well as the Sea Lions of the Spring League and the Panthers Wroclaw of the European League of Football (ELF). Turpin finished the EFL season with 702 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns and although he was re-signed for the 2022 season, Turpin left the league in order to compete for the New Jersey Generals in the United States Football League (USFL), where he won the MVP award after compiling 44 catches for 540 yards and four touchdowns while adding 23 rushes for 129 yards and one score. Turpin had 921 all-purpose yards for the Generals and scored one touchdown on special teams.
#Cowboys WR KaVontae Turpin graded out at a 63.5 PFF grade after yesterday's performance, which sets him just above average on the PFF grading scale.— Gridiron USFL (@GridironUSFL) September 11, 2023
The Cowboys have expressed interest in using KaVontae all over the field, which was evident yesterday. #UnitedByFootball pic.twitter.com/XXbvH3a079
Turpin’s success in the USFL led to the Cowboys signing him to a three-year contract in July 2022. The former TCU standout made his presence known during the preseason, returning both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown when Dallas faced the Los Angeles Chargers on Aug. 20, 2022. Turpin was active in all 17 games for the Cowboys last season, recording over 800 all-purpose yards with nearly all of the yards coming on kick and punt returns. Turpin, who set records at TCU for most career punt return scores (four) and most career special teams scores (six), will look to continue carving out a greater role in Dallas this season.