Nevada's trio of Carson Strong, Cole Turner and Romeo Doubs had to get it out the mud – as the kids say.
The three players – who were barely recruited out of high school – came together at the University of Nevada, Reno, to create one of the most exciting and underrated offenses in college football. In the past two seasons, the Wolfpack won 13 games with two bowl game appearances – averaging nearly 37 points per game in their 2021 regular season.
Quarterback Carson Strong's only offer coming out of high school was from Nevada. After stepping on campus, he became a two-time Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year – the first Nevada quarterback to accomplish that feat. His collegiate career concluded with him racking up the second-most passing touchdowns (74) and pass completions (852) in school history.
"I've got a lot to prove," Strong said during his Combine media availability Wednesday morning. "I'm looking forward to getting out there tomorrow, throwing the ball around. But these interviews are so important, all the meetings with the doctors are so important, so I've got a ton to prove. I'm looking forward to going out there and throwing the ball tomorrow though."
His two biggest weapons without a doubt were Cole Turner and Romeo Doubs. The wide receiver and tight end were both selected to the All-MWC first or second team in 2020 and 2021, with a combined 3,393 receiving yards and 39 receiving touchdowns in that span. Doubs blossomed his junior and senior season with Strong as his quarterback, recording back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving seasons.
"I think growing as a receiver, it came with a lot of experience," Doubs said. "A lot of film study, just being able to watch other guys and what fits them at the professional level as well a collegiate level. So, I would just say just being able to study a lot more and take as much information I can from other receivers to be able to perfect my game."
The three were also roommates in college, first being paired together in a UNR freshman dormitory before getting an apartment off-campus together.
"We grew together. None of us were highly recruited guys," said Strong. "Romeo was a high school quarterback, Cole coming from Portland, so a bunch of different backgrounds all coming together and we just grinded. We developed, we worked, we were all raw when we first came in. We worked to get here to this point, we improved as the years went on."
The three would have their fair share of competition off the field – ranging from shooting hoops during trips to Lake Tahoe or intense NFL Madden battles in the living room. Both Turner and Strong are not willing to compromise on who's the better player of the two on the joystick.
"I think Carson would argue too, but I think I'm the best," Turner said on who's the better Madden player. "I just have more experience playing. [My Madden team] was the Tennessee Titans because I like to run the ball, run some play action."
"I would have to disagree on that one," Strong said in response to Turner. "We've had some Madden battles, but no. I'm definitely the top Madden player in the house.
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame of Turner has led to him being one of the top-tier receiving tight ends in the nation. He was tied for the most receiving touchdowns in the MWC conference in 2020 with teammate Doubs. The transition that Turner made from wide receiver to tight end in college is comparable to the NFL journey of a tight end he models his game most after: Darren Waller.
"We have similar body types and I like how well he plays and gets separation for someone his size," said Turner. "It would be amazing [to play with Waller]. I would try to learn from him every single day. Someone that's been as successful as him, it would be an honor to play with him."
Like Waller, the Wolfpack trio already have experience making big plays inside Allegiant Stadium.
On Halloween of 2020, Nevada picked up the Fremont Cannon over their arch in-state rival UNLV with a 37-19 victory at the Raiders' home field. Strong finished the game with 350 passing yards and two touchdowns, completing nearly 78 percent of his passes. Doubs was the game's leading receiver with 219 yards and a touchdown, with Turner right behind him with 72 receiving yards on four receptions.
"UNLV is obviously a big rivalry in Nevada. Whenever you get there the first thing you hear about is, 'Don't wear red in the building,'" joked Strong. "It's been fun, those games are always a good time.
"Playing in Allegiant Stadium was a cool experience also."
Take a look back at current Raiders' appearances at past NFL Scouting Combines.