KaVontae Turpin: Former Wroclaw Panthers star becomes one of the USFL’s biggest names

By Jordan Meneo

The name KaVontae Turpin is one you’ll know if you’re a European League of Football fan and one you’ll hear frequently if you follow the United States Football League.

The wide receiver/kick returner has been lighting up the rebooted football league as a member of the New Jersey Generals as he did with the Wroclaw Panthers in the ELF in 2021. Some have even referred to Turpin as the USFL’s Tyreek Hill. However, the road for this gifted player was not easy, not in the slightest.

KaVontae Turpin began his official football career at Neville High School in Monroe, Louisiana. He was undersized for the wide receiver position, but his blazing speed made up for it. In his only high school game covered by MaxPreps, Turpin racked up 111 yards of total offense. He averaged 6.9 yards a carry at running back and 18.7 yards receiving. Despite measuring at just 5’7” and 145 lbs, Turpin was a three-star recruit and listed as the twelfth best prospect in Louisiana according to Scout.com for the class of 2015.

Turpin officially signed to Texas Christian University on January 25th, 2015. During his freshman year, he became an instant star. He was good for 649 yards receiving with eight touchdowns. Additionally, he had 116 yards rushing and 181 yards on punt returns. However, perhaps the most jarring aspect of his freshman year was the 729 yards he had on kick returns. Turpin was making a name for himself as one of the greatest college returners ever. In his sophomore and junior year, he was named to the All-Big 12 first team as a punt and kick returner.

When Turpin’s senior year came around, his football future started to fall apart. In October of 2018, he was arrested on charges of assault causing bodily injury in an incident with his longtime girlfriend. He was kicked off TCU later that week. In 2019, Turpin pleaded guilty to those charges and was given two years deferred adjudication probation and sentenced to complete a 27-week Partner Abuse Intervention Program. In his time at TCU, Turpin produced 2,726 yards as a kick returner with four return touchdowns. He also had 1,748 yards on 145 catches and 13 touchdowns. However, after his arrest, his image as a top college prospect was gone.

After being ruled ineligible to participate in TCU’s Pro Day due to unresolved legal matters, Turpin held his own pro day. It was there where he put up an official 40-yard dash time of 4.31 seconds. To compare, Tyreek Hill, widely regarded as the fastest player in the NFL, was clocked at 4.29, a difference of .02 seconds. Despite this, his small stature and arrest were too much for NFL teams to overlook as he went undrafted.

From there KaVontae Turpin’s journeyman career began. In 2021, he signed with the ‘Glacier Boyz’ in the Fan Controlled Football league. After a brief stint there, he played in The Spring League where he was a member of the Sea Lions where he played with quarterback De’andre Johnson.

Then in August 2021, he signed with the ELF’s lone Polish franchise, the Wroclaw Panthers midway through the season. He took on the nickname, “beast from the east” and went on to justify it. His breakout game came against the Hamburg Sea Devils where he collected 293 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. Turpin would have a remarkable season. In the last five games of the season, he put up 702 all-purpose yards along with six touchdowns.

On February 22 of this year, Turpin was finally given a chance to be back in the U.S. spotlight as he was the seventh wide receiver selected in the USFL Draft. He was selected by the New Jersey Generals, the team who had also selected his Spring League quarterback De’andre Johnson.

Turpin jumped to the front stage in week three against the Philadelphia Stars. He had five catches for 78 yards and was a huge factor in their win. Since then, he has been a superstar. He is currently first in the league in receiving yards with 444 and third in the league in punt-return yards with 104. KaVontae Turpin has paved his way back into the football world and is definitely a player to watch as his comeback continues.

A current student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Jordan grew up playing football. He began writing in high school after creating his own website and hopes to continue his pursuit for a career in sports media.