A Promise Kept: Dabo Swinney, Nolan and Cole Turner’s Trip to Manhood

There is always a “why” in most every situation. Recruiting is filled with many why’s, it makes the process both interesting and yes, even a little frustrating. Here’s one such interesting story.

It’s just the way things are in most families, the older son leaves home to blaze a trail for the younger brother to follow. On the surface, that sounds like the trail Nolan Turner, sixth-year super senior has blazed for younger brother, Cole. However, there’s a little more to their story than meets the eye.

Nolan and Cole’s father, former Alabama great and NFL veteran, Kevin Smith, suffering from ALS, knew he wouldn’t live to see his two young sons become men. His illness had already taken away so much but it wouldn’t take away his greatest dream.

Terminally Ill, seven years ago, he would reach out to a friend, a college teammate, to take over in his absence. That friend, Dabo Swinney, promised to shepherd his boys to their rightful place in this world as successful young men.

Cole Turner isn’t even rated by a single recruiting service, so obviously there will be some second guessing, moaning and insinuations of preferential treatment. Just like there was with Nolan, who wasn’t rated himself.

Many crying foul at yet another project player, a friend’s son and the wasting of yet another scholarship. Thankfully, Swinney’s internal compass isn’t skewed by those that make such misinformed comments. He doesn’t have time for such negativity, he has a big job to do.

2022 WR Cole Turner, who visited this past weekend, was quick to announce his commitment. Turner had been on the Tigers’ radar for awhile but having already signed Adam Randall and Antonio Williams, there just wasn’t room. Then Ajou Ajou and Frank Ladson transferred, opening up a spot, providing the opportunity for Turner to get what he always wanted, a chance.

Just reading comments about his commitment sounded like it was more than just a player coming to Clemson. It sounded more appropriately, like he was coming home. A promise between two friends had come to fruition. However, while the job of helping Nolan was complete, the job of helping the younger Turner to manhood is just beginning. The right man is on the job, it’s what Dabo Swinney does, and he does it well.

Watching his film, it’s obvious there are a lot of positives. Still, I’m sure the naysayers amongst us will harp loudly that the younger Turner didn’t even play in either his freshman or sophomore seasons. One could realistically say, he’s a late bloomer. This past season as a senior, is the only experience he’s had in the spread offense.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound WR had 42 catches for 581 yards, with seven touchdowns. He also returned kicks, averaging 19.5 yards per punt return and 34.5 yards on kickoff returns, returning one of each for a touchdown. In all, he totaled 1,160 all-purpose yards.

It’s a strange phenomenon in sports and in life, sometimes the real worth of a player/person can’t be found solely in their measurables (statistics) but rather their true value (potential) is found in the heart, where true greatness dwells. Looking towards Nolan as an example, with development, Cole will more than prove his worth, his value to this program. I’ll bet on it.

The relationship between a father and his sons can bare mixed blessings. The success of one doesn’t automatically ensure that same result for the other. However, this is not your typical father/son relationship, this one is different.

For a father so loved his sons, that knowing he’d never see his dreams for them come to pass, would help them into manhood by leading them to a man he trusted with all he had left. Just remember that when you feel tempted to question the worthiness of any player to be here, at Clemson.

Cole Turner’s path began by his father’s love, his brother’s legacy and now, fueled by his own dreams and efforts. I’m proud to extend a grateful hand of friendship to this young man, and offer him a heartfelt welcome and I imagine his dad is very proud.

3 thoughts on “A Promise Kept: Dabo Swinney, Nolan and Cole Turner’s Trip to Manhood

    1. Thanks so much! As a nurse, I’ve taken care on many ALS patients and it is a very cruel disease. It was a painful joy that made me write this Article.

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