A Matter of Persistence

Signing day 2006 was full of drama and suspense for several prospects across the country. There were no national networks present when Will Turnbo signed his national letter of intent to play for Panhandle State. There were no fireworks, no collection of hats on a table, no limos, no glitz, no glamour and none of the pomp and circumstance of a big media event, but maybe there should have been.

Panhandle State?

I had to look it up too and to save you the time and trouble I will just tell you the school is located in Goodwell, Oklahoma.

For Will Turnbo, OPSU will be home for the next four years. How Will became an OPSU Aggie is a fairly remarkable tale of persistence, self-promotion and just good old fashioned hard work.

The recruiting process comes fairly easy for some prospects. They constantly have their names in the paper and their highlights on television. By the time many of them are juniors, they are household names in some circles.

Will Turnbo did not have the luxury of name recognition when his college recruitment began. Playing for 2A Wesson High School in the southwest corner of Mississippi, Turnbo fell a bit off the beaten path. Nobody gave Will anything and in the end I think he preferred it that way.

Sure in the beginning Will got a few form letters from here and there like everybody else. When it looked like his college options were going to be limited, Will took matters into his own hands.

Each night and weekend when Turnbo had the time between going to school, working for his dad and playing football Will became a one man marketing machine.

"I just got on line and started looking for schools," said Will. "I was looking for schools that had mechanical engineering because that's what I want to get a degee in. I looked at that and I looked at how good the coaches were."

Once Will found schools that fit his criteria he e-mailed the coaching staff or filled out the school's on line questionnaires. Will's conservative estimate is that he put his name in front of about 100 college football coaches.

"It was a pretty good bit," said Will. "I heard back from about 30. Most of them wanted to see film and then they would call me once they got my film."

Everyone needs a highlight film. Turbo took care of the production and distribution of his own film. Most schools got a DVD produced, edited and packaged by Will Turnbo himself. Of those schools most liked what they saw.

"I sent film to just about all 30," said Turnbo. "15 or 20 of them offered me a scholarship."

Granted most of Will's offers came from Division II schools, but before he became his own marketing firm he had zero. While many former hopefuls will be going to work this fall talking about what might have been, Turnbo will be getting ready to play his first college game at home against Langston.

Will took a pair of visits, but his trip to Panhandle proved to be the only one he really needed.

"I really like the Coach there," said Will. "I really believe he can turn that program around. Coach Mike Wyatt has over 200 wins as a coach. He coached in the Arena league and over in Europe. When I saw how he acted and how much he wanted to win, I knew that was where I needed to go. I like it up there."

Playing for a smaller school in a small town is something Will is used to, but he knew he could make something of his situation. Will understood that dreams rarely come true for those who simply wish upon a star.

"I come from a small town, there are no big cities around me," said Will. "I just started looking for schools that had my degree and schools that wanted me. I just wanted to go to school and play ball."

One of Will's teammates got to reap some of the benefits of his hardwork. He is getting to play college ball too.

"Coach saw (Joseph Decker) on my film and they were interested in him," said Will. "He played tight end for us and back up quarterback. He was still looking for a school, so it just worked out. We are heading up there in August. He is going to live across the hall from me in the dorm."

Turnbo has some advice for prospects that maybe are not getting the amount of attention they expect.

"I would just tell people to look around and try as hard as you can," said Will. "Get in touch with the people you are interested in and don't wait for them to come to you."

The chances of Turnbo playing on national television are slim. You probably will not see his name on any pre-season Outland trophy lists. Does that make him any less of a big deal?

How much would you be willing to bet that Will graduates? I would never bet against him.

If you are looking for a mechanical engineer in five years or so, you may want to keep checking your inbox for Will's resume. There is a good chance when he starts his job search he will find you. He just has a knack of making his own way.

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