THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Passionate about football and music, Kobie Turner's dream – as far back as elementary school – was to play professional football.
But there was one point in time where he didn't know if that dream was still viable, and thought he might need music to keep it going.
This is how "The Conductor" managed to keep it alive while maintaining his passion for both.
Music became part of Turner's life at an early age.
His mother grew up listening to gospel music, R&B, and reggae around the house, which in turn became his childhood. The sound of reggae especially stands out to Turner from his youth, though not for the reason one might think.
When he heard it throughout the house on Saturday mornings, a smiling Turner said it was a sign that it was going to be a day where they would be cleaning up a lot, so he didn't look forward to it too much.
"I don't remember the artists. I didn't know them by name, but I know them by sound," Turner told theRams.com, laughing. "Trust me. When you're asleep and you start having dreams of reggae, you're like, 'Ohhhh.' And then you open your eyes and you realize it's real, it's like, 'OK, mom's in the kitchen, she already has the Fabuloso out, like, we're about to be scrubbing the floorboards, it's all over.'"
When it comes to foundational music experiences, Turner more fondly remembers gospel. He said it all got started going to worship practices with his mom on Saturdays and Sundays. As Turner got older and progressed into middle school and high school, he watched his oldest brother get into the guitar, and it left a big impact.
"I've really looked after him," Turner said. "I'm the youngest of four, and he was the oldest, so I kind of started doing my thing with guitar and stuff like that, and music gradually became bigger and bigger in my life."
Turner said music became his outlet once he got to high school, and how he made it through high school. It kept him busy, too – in addition to choir, he also ran three a capella groups while juggling football, per a November 2022 Sports Illustrated article.
"Being able to go back and play music and use that to pour on my emotions and whatever it may be, and that was kind of my voice," Turner said.
For some time during that period, though, he also thought it might be his only way of getting a college scholarship, and by extension, continuing to pursue his football dreams.
Centreville (Virginia) High head coach Tony Rozzoni already had Turner on his radar thanks to Turner's football lineage.
Older brother A.J. had previously come through the program and was a highly-productive running back who later earned a scholarship to the University of South Carolina. Thus, Rozzoni was eager to get to know Kobie.
Rozzoni said that initially, football wasn't Kobie's biggest passion – though Kobie said that during that time, he wasn't feeling the most confident in his football future.
At first, Kobie played tight end in Centreville's Wing-T offense. It wasn't until his junior year that the Wildcats coaching staff started to find playing time for him along the defensive line as well.
That junior season – the months leading into it, to be more specific – marked a turning point that changed everything for him.
Centreville offers a personal fitness class that its football program wants its players taking, a class that Rozzoni has taught for a long period of time at the school. Kobie couldn't because of the music and advanced placement classes he was taking, so Rozzoni made an exception for him.
Eventually, Kobie asked if Rozzoni could train him on the side.
"I would actually in the offseason train him for like an hour a day, just showing him different lifts like the power clean, deadlift, bench," Rozzoni said. "Like, hey, do five sets of five on this bench, you got to do five sets of three jerking power cleans, hang cleans. He was literally like a sponge for me when I was teaching him about different things in the weight room."
That hard work paid off – to an extent.
Turner started as a junior and a senior, earning First-Team All-District recognition for both the offensive and defensive lines. He was also a Second-Team selection on the offensive line for USA Today's All-Virginia squad and a Class 6A Second-Team All-State choice for both offensive line and defensive line. However, Turner still remained lightly recruited by colleges, and was still looking at music scholarships to offset the cost of continuing to play football as a result of not seeing those football scholarship offers.
"I didn't really get much love in general," Turner said. "I remember Hampton came around once or twice, and they were potentially gonna offer me a scholarship at one point in time, but then that coach went to the University of Richmond, and so he kind of became one of my ins at Richmond. I remember talking a lot to Washington and Lee, I think it was Seton Hill (as well) or something, but it was all D-3, D-2's."
So when Richmond stopped by for an in-home recruiting visit with his best friend, a defensive end named Caleb Brooks, Turner decided to take matters into his own hands.