High-SchoolFootball: Senior Season

Ben WatsonRon Chenoy/US PresswireNFL tight end Ben Watson advises student-athletes to speak up during the recruiting process.
There is something special about senior year in high school. It’s a particularly bittersweet time, the pinnacle of the high school experience meets the final year enjoying the friendships and familiarities developed over years.

For high school football players, it’s a similarly sentimental time, as it marks the final season spent under the Friday night lights. We spoke with several NFL players to discuss what makes this time in life so unique, and to share some of the lessons they’d like to impart to the Class of 2012. Our first installment featured Rams rookie defensive end Robert Quinn and the lessons he learned during a trying season. In our second edition we spoke with Cleveland Browns tight end Ben Watson. We recently profiled Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant and how he overcame a tough neighborhood and found his path to a long and rewarding football career, as well as safety George Wilson's interesting path to playing defense on the professional level. Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell talked about his journey from Denver to the desert and how he was proactive in his own recruiting process. Former Florida State standout and star linebacker for the Oakland Raiders Kamerion Wimbley discussed the transitions and sacrifices he's made in his journey to the pros.

We gathered some of the best insights and advice that the pros had to offer in this look back at the series.

Before he was chasing down Champ Bailey in epic fashion in the NFL playoffs or leading the Cleveland Browns in nearly every receiving category in 2010, tight end Ben Watson was a coveted recruit from Northwestern High (Rock Hill, S.C.).

"It's crazy to say it, but it has been over a decade since I was recruited," said Watson, whose younger brother Asa Watson is a tight end at N.C. State. "I know that the process has changed a great deal since then, but I'm also sure the same strategies and realities still apply today. My younger brother just went through the process a few years ago and with the Internet and social networking it's tougher than ever to navigate, but with a good head on your shoulders and, most importantly, a good support system at home, a set of strong priorities will lead the way.

"I started out at Duke before transferring to Georgia. And I mostly made the switch for football, but I did really enjoy my experience at Duke and trust that my decision was sound because I really went for the education and the environment, but in the end I wanted to get more out of my football career as well. I think the greatest advice would be to be really proactive in the process. It's hard to speak up and ask the tough questions that you want answered when a smooth coach is recruiting you or some older guys on the team are showing you around, but it's really about you and how you feel about the school and the program. Have a firm set of priorities and don't waver from them just because you are impressed by a visit or a call. Never forget that it's about you and your decision in this important stage of life."

Oakland's Kamerion Wimbley loves hunting quarterbacks and collapsing the pocket on a regular basis, and the Northwest (Wichita, Kan.) product believes his path the NFL was paved early by his decision to start at Florida State a semester early.

"It wasn't easy to leave the high school life," said Wimbley. "And it might not be right for everyone, but for me, I think it really set me up to prosper in college and not just on the field. I just think that adjusting to the college lifestyle is tough enough, and to combine that with practicing and playing right away is just a really big challenge for a young guy to handle. I made some sacrifices to go to school early, but I really do believe it paid off and not just because I'm in the NFL, but because I was able to make the transition into college and learn to be on my own early on."

For Arizona's Calais Campbell, prioritizing his passions outside of football has always been a part of his life.

"I made sure that I really took school seriously because the game really can be taken away from you," said Campbell, who has a serious interest in working in film and media and interned with "Funny or Die" this past summer. "Even in high school I was involved in editing videos and learning how to use new programs and technologies and my brothers and I would develop sketch comedy routines and I've just always been interested in the creative process. Some might say that you need to eat, breath and sleep football, but I don't think having interests outside of the game is a bad thing. My passion for football is very strong, but it's important to make sure that you develop some of the other interests in your life."

Kamerion Wimbley Harry How/Getty ImagesOakland's Kamerion Wimbley has been a fan of collecting sacks dating back to his high school days at Northwest (Wichita, Kan.).
There is something special about senior year in high school. It’s a particularly bittersweet time, the pinnacle of the high school experience meets the final year enjoying the friendships and familiarities developed over years.

For high school football players, it’s a similarly sentimental time, as it marks the final season spent under the Friday night lights. We spoke with several NFL players to discuss what makes this time in life so unique, and to share some of the lessons they’d like to impart to the Class of 2012. Our first installment featured Rams rookie defensive end Robert Quinn and the lessons he learned during a trying season. In our second edition we spoke with Cleveland Browns tight end Ben Watson. We recently profiled Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant and how he overcame a tough neighborhood and found his path to a long and rewarding football career, as well as safety George Wilson's interesting path to playing defense on the professional level. In this past week's installment we spoke with Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell about his journey from Denver to the desert and how he was proactive in his own recruiting process.

In this sixth and final installment of the series, we talked with former Florida State standout and star linebacker for the Oakland Raiders Kamerion Wimbley about the transitions and sacrifices he's made in his journey to the pros.


Whether he’s dropping into coverage, pursuing the running back or collapsing the pocket with regularity, Kamerion Wimbley can be seen all over the field on Sundays as an outside linebacker for the Oakland Raiders. It’s safe to say that he learned to develop a versatile approach to the game from his days in high school at Northwest (Wichita, Kan.), where he spent time literally all over the field getting snaps as a linebacker, lineman, quarterback, receiver and punter.

"It was really important to get snaps all over the field because it helped me become a better student of the game and it challenged both my athleticism and my mind," said Wimbley, who currently leads the Raiders with seven sacks on the season.

Wimbley has been asked to adapt on the field for much of his football career, a testament to his renowned physical prowess but also a nod to his willingness to learn.

"Going from my days at Northwest and at Florida State, where I spent much of the time on the defensive line, to the NFL, where I made the switch to linebacker, was difficult but necessary," said Wimbley, who the Cleveland Browns selected with the 13th overall pick in 2006.

The transition proved to be an immediate success, as Wimbley led all AFC rookies with 11 sacks to go along with his 62 total tackles that freshman professional season. His favorite goal on the field, whether as a defensive end or manning a linebacker spot, hasn't changed since his days at Northwest.

"From high school to college and definitely in the NFL, there is nothing better than getting a sack in a big moment," said Wimbley, who recently tallied four sacks in a game versus the Chargers. "The rush and the emotion of a sack is similar to a big catch, run or a touchdown at the right moment in a game. It’s an addiction in that I always want more.

"If you are going to make a position change you have to be open to it. You must study players who really play that role well and really understand what they do well and why they are successful. So much of it comes down to the little things and learning the techniques. You can have great teaching and great coaching, but you have to want to get better to make the switch successful."

In the spring of 2002 Wimbley made an even more dramatic transition, this one off the field, when he graduated from high school early and enrolled at Florida State for the spring semester.

"I had a high school coach who suggested that I consider going early," said Wimbley. "I was traveling pretty far from home to go to college and the idea was that it would give me a chance to adjust to the campus, my new team and really the college lifestyle. It’s one of the biggest transitions you make in life; learning to do the things off the field that are important, like learning to balance a budget, manage my time and motivate myself to do my school work was really important in making it a comfortable process.

"The easier you can make the transition off the field to college, the on-field transition will be that much smoother. I was able to get to know my teammates and coaches and it really helped me get on the field early. Of course, I had to sacrifice the end of my senior year and the time with my friends to do this, but it was all part of the sacrifice to reach my goals."
TBD EditorTom Gannam/APArizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell is on pace for his best season in the NFL.
There is something special about senior year in high school. It’s a particularly bittersweet time, the pinnacle of the high school experience meets the final year enjoying the friendships and familiarities developed over years.

For high school football players, it’s a similarly sentimental time, as it marks the final season spent under the Friday night lights. We spoke with several NFL players to discuss what makes this time in life so unique, and to share some of the lessons they’d like to impart to the Class of 2012. Our first installment featured Rams rookie defensive end Robert Quinn and the lessons he learned during a trying season. In our second edition we spoke with Cleveland Browns tight end Ben Watson. We recently profiled Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant and how he overcame a tough neighborhood and found his path to a long and rewarding football career, as well as safety George Wilson's interesting path to playing defense on the professional level.

In this week's installment we spoke with Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell about his journey from Denver to the desert and how he was proactive in his own recruiting process.

Check back next Wednesday for the sixth and final installment of Senior Season.

Fourth-year defensive lineman Calais Campbell is on pace for his best season in the NFL with an eye on highs in tackles, passes defended, forced turnovers and sacks. But before starring on Saturdays at Miami and onto Sundays in Arizona, he was in the backyard of his parents’ home in Colorado.

The 6-foot-8, 300-pound Campbell is a big man who comes from a big family, with seven siblings. He credits growing up with five brothers as the breeding ground for growing into a star athlete.

“The reason I was able to elevate my game was because of my brothers and the constant competition growing up,” Campbell said. “From having a catch to playing hoops or just racing down the street we competed all the time. No one likes to lose at anything, but you never want to lose to your brothers.”

It helps that his brothers were all close in age, with his oldest brother being just four years older and his two younger brothers just as close to his age. What might have helped even more is that four of his brothers competed in college football — his younger brother Jared also playing at Miami and even had a stint in the Cardinals’ camp this summer as an undrafted free agent.

As a star defensive end for South High School in Denver, Campbell set the state record in career sacks (57) and also led the state in rebounding and was fourth in scoring as a hoops star. Growing up outside of a traditional hotbed for recruiting, he found being proactive was the best approach.

“You didn’t get a lot of attention or exposure playing in Denver and in Colorado,” said Campbell. “It’s not like playing in Florida, California or Texas where they’ll find you if your good, so I had to send out DVDs and help to promote myself.

“One thing I did when I started getting letters is I responded personally to a lot of them that I had interest in,” Campbell said. “I would email whoever the contact person was and ask them questions about the school, about the media and advertising programs there or what the school offered in terms of academics that stood out. I realized that I had to be an active part of the process and not receiving pitches to these different programs and school.”

While he enjoyed playing in prep football games, like the annual battle versus Denver foe Thomas Jefferson, it wasn’t until he made an unofficial visit to Miami that he realized how competitive the game could become.

“First off all, I’m a kid coming from Denver in the winter,” Campbell said. “I had never seen the ocean or anything like Miami, so that was the first thing on my mind. But once I got to campus and then to the field, and this was just after they lost to Ohio State in the championship, I realized this was something different. The guys were all training for the NFL and a lot of NFL alums were there training too, just beasts. I wanted to be a part of this competitive culture with these amazing athletes; it felt like where I could take my game to a new level.”

With an eye on becoming involved in movies and television one day, thanks in large part to his work in high school editing in his school’s computer lab, Campbell has continued on his proactive ways and interned at the website Funny or Die over the past summer.

“In the end, I was able to get a strong degree from a good school and achieve my dream of playing in the NFL,” said Campbell. “But I made sure I was prepared for a life outside of football, and one day I’ll be able to take my talents to Hollywood.”
George WilsonRick Stewart/Getty ImagesBills safety George Wilson was a star wideout in high school and college but made the rare transition to starting at safety in the NFL.
There is something special about senior year in high school. It’s a particularly bittersweet time, the pinnacle of the high school experience meets the final year enjoying the friendships and familiarities developed over years.

For high school football players, it’s a similarly sentimental time, as it marks the final season spent under the Friday night lights. We spoke with several NFL players to discuss what makes this time in life so unique, and to share some of the lessons they’d like to impart to the Class of 2012. Our first installment featured Rams rookie defensive end Robert Quinn and the lessons he learned during a trying season. In our second edition we spoke with Cleveland Browns tight end Ben Watson. This past week we profiled Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant and how he overcame a tough neighborhood and found his path to a long and rewarding football career.

In this week's installment we spoke with Buffalo Bills safety George Wilson about his challenging path to the pros and how his high school career helped shape his future.

Check back every Wednesday for the next two weeks for another installment of Senior Season.

George Wilson’s path to becoming a standout NFL safety was long and winding and required substantial sacrifices along the way. He learned to love the game at a young age, watching his older brother play for Paducah Tilghman (Paducah, Ky.) versus Mayfield (Ky.) in the storied Kentucky high school football rivalry.

“There is just so much history and tradition in this deep-rooted rivalry,” Wilson said of the football conflict that dates back to 1911. “I remember watching the pep rallies as a kid and looking forward to the day that I’d be in the games playing for Paducah. No matter our records this was the game of the year. We had Mayfield Week; we’d have events all week and it would culminate with the burning of Mr. Mayfield. Art students at our school would make a fake football player out of chicken wire and stuff him with newspaper and hay and at the pep rally he’d get thrown into the bonfire and everyone went crazy for it. It’s a bitter rivalry, but also one of deep respect and it’s always in good fun.”

When Wilson went to his 10-year reunion at Paducah Tilghman a few years ago, he and his former teammates shared stories about the good times.

“Most of what we really remembered were the little things,” Wilson said. “Making jokes on the bus rides and the times in the locker room. Some crazy plays made at practice or how hard two-a-days were and running the stadium stairs was. We talked about some games, but most of what seems important years later were the friendships and bonds we all made during those years growing up. It was just a really special time in our lives.

“For me, what I remember clearly was the feeling in the huddle and looking around and knowing that I grew up with these guys and how we were all in it together,” said Wilson.

As a two-time all-state wide receiver Wilson was heavily recruited and ended up playing for Houston Nutt at Arkansas. He ended his Razorbacks career second all-time in receptions and third all-time in receiving yards in school history. But when it came to the NFL, he went undrafted and signed with the Detroit Lions shortly after the 2004 draft. He was relegated to special teams and practice squad duties until a rare opportunity presented itself in 2007 while with the Bills.

“I had been in the league for three years and wasn’t really seeing the field as a wide receiver,” said Wilson. “But I did well on special teams and coaches saw how aggressive and fearless I was. In college, my position coach, James Shibest, taught me that I need to focus on becoming a great football player, and not just a receiver, and I took that to heart. I was asked to make a position change to safety, and I hadn’t played defense since high school. I knew this could be my way onto the field and I didn’t take it as an insult, but rather that they appreciated something in me that I was able to make such a tough transition. For any player being asked to make a really tough decision like this, try and focus on the team and how you might be able to help.

“I had the chance to broaden my football knowledge and use the tools I learned as a wide receiver for so long in this new role,” said Wilson, who has thrived as starting NFL safety and team captain ever since making the shift. “To be a part of a team you have to truly put the team first and make sacrifices. If this meant that I needed to learn an entirely new position and say goodbye to the one that I had worked on for so many years, then that is what the team needed.

“My first NFL start was on Monday Night Football against the Cowboys, the team I grew up watching in my living room, and I hadn’t made a catch or clearly ever scored a touchdown in the NFL after years as a wide receiver. On the third play of the game Tony Romo overthrew Jason Witten and I intercepted it and took it in for a touchdown. It was a little piece of heaven; eight to 10 seconds of joy after 16 years of hard work. It was all worth it.”

Senior Season: NFL WR Jason Avant

November, 23, 2011
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Jason AvantDrew Hallowell/Getty ImagesJason Avant has been a steady target for the Eagles since coming out of Michigan, but the influence of his grandmother and his days at Carver Miltary Academy in Chicago started it all.
There is something special about senior year in high school. It’s a particularly bittersweet time; the pinnacle of the high school experience meets the final year enjoying the friendships and familiarities developed over years.

For high school football players, it’s a similarly sentimental time, as it marks the final season spent under Friday night lights. We spoke with several NFL players to discuss what makes this time in life so unique, and to share some of the lessons they’d like to impart to the Class of 2012. Our first installment featured Rams rookie defensive end Robert Quinn and the lessons he learned during a trying season. In our second edition we spoke with Cleveland Browns tight end Ben Watson.

This week we profile Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant and discuss how he overcame a tough neighborhood and found his path to a long and rewarding football career.

Check back every Wednesday for the next three weeks for another installment of Senior Season.

Jason Avant has been a reliable target for the Eagles ever since he was drafted in 2006 out of Michigan. But before his days in the maize and blue, he was a standout receiver and All-State safety at Carver Military Academy in Chicago.

“Going from a public school to a military school environment was definitely a big change for me,” said Avant of his move from MacArthur (Decatur, Ill.) to Carver as a freshman. “The students were nearly all from ROTC programs and we had to adapt to wearing uniforms and just a different way of running a school. It was difficult because we really didn’t know that it was changing to a military school, but it did teach me some discipline that would help me down the road.”

Avant grew up in the Brainerd Park neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago, in a territory claimed by gangs that was deemed the “9-0.” He admits that the illicit environment lured him when he was young as his grandmother worked to raise him.

“I praise God for my grandmother and her role in my life,” Avant said. “I was getting into the gang life and what was really just the life around me. Growing up where I did in Chicago, making bad decisions was the norm; drug and gang activity was normal activity to my friends and me.

“The people around me didn’t view gang life in a bad way in that environment, but she taught me that there were consequences to this kind of behavior. If you chose that path, it’s a very difficult one to change. You look down the line and see that a lot of the guys you came up with that stuck to the streets are in prison or dead. And when they do get older you see how hard it is to get or keep a job and live a good life, even if they intend to change. I am just thankful to have had her in my life and how she set a better path for me than the gang life.”

As he matured and began to take football seriously, an important mentor entered his life.

“I met Rodney Harrison at the end of my sophomore year,” Avant said. “It was a pivotal time in my life and football career. He was instrumental because I had talent but I didn’t understand what hard work was until I got in the weight room with him that summer and realized just what it took to be the best. If you want to be good at something you can’t work like everyone else, you have to push yourself to be better when others aren’t.”

Avant looks back on his high school experience fondly, a time when the game and his friends were the most important things in life.

“I think the thing that I remember most about my high school experience were my friends and the people I grew up with over that time,” Avant said. “For so many of your teammates in high school, the guys you battled with all those years, it’s the last time you’ll ever see them on the football field. So it’s a special moment and the final chapter in a lot of players’ football careers.

“It’s really just the last time you are playing pure football. And by pure, I mean that in college there are some politics involved; All-Americans and top recruits that might influence how the coaches use them. In the NFL, it’s a money game. But on that high school football field its really just pure, and it’s a time that I’ll always remember.”

Senior Season: Ben Watson

November, 16, 2011
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TBD EditorMark Duncan/APBen Watson has won a Super Bowl and led the Browns in receptions and yardage last season, but his times playing for Northwestern (Rock Hill, S.C.) remain some of his greatest gridiron memories.
There is something special about senior year in high school. It’s a particularly bittersweet time in life; the pinnacle of the high school experience but also the final year enjoying the friendships and familiarities developed over several years.

For high school football players it’s a similarly sentimental time, as it marks the final season spent under the Friday night lights. We spoke with several NFL players to discuss what makes this time in life so unique, and to share some of the lessons they’d like to impart to the Class of 2012. Our first installment featured Rams rookie defensive end Robert Quinn and the lessons he learned during a trying senior year in high school.

This week's edition features Cleveland Browns tight end Ben Watson. A first-round pick out of Georgia in the 2004 draft, Watson spent the first six seasons of his NFL career with the Patriots, winning the Super Bowl in his rookie year.

Check back every Wednesday for the next four weeks for another installment of Senior Season.


Ben Watson has been involved in some huge games during the course of his football career. With the Patriots, he was a part of several crucial playoff contests, won a Super Bowl and contributed to a perfect regular season.

But if you ask him what game he remembers most distinctly in his career, he’ll take you back to South Carolina in 1997, when he was playing for the Trojans of Northwestern High (Rock Hill, S.C.).

"My most memorable single game was the state championship against Gaffney at Memorial Stadium," said Watson. "Even though we lost that game, the whole road to get there that season and playing for it all was so special."

His Trojans fell short of state glory in a 37-30 blockbuster battle, but the game remains a highlight of a stellar career for Watson.

"They always talk about the games you will never forget" said Watson. "And at the time I was probably like ‘yeah, yeah, whatever coach,’ but honestly that game against Gaffney still sticks out above some big college and pro games. I can just still remember the feeling, the bus ride, how it really meant everything to us."

The son of a college linebacker, Watson’s love for football was always strong, but it wasn’t until his family moved from his hometown of Norfolk, Va., to Rock Hill in the tenth grade that he became engrossed in a real football hotbed.

"My dad had told me that they take their football seriously down in this small town we were moving to, a move I didn’t even want to make," said Watson. "I get there and it was unbelievable; the entire town shuts down on Fridays, thousands of fans at the games in this small community. Our biggest rival was Rock Hill, and at the time there were only two schools in the town, and the games were always huge. One year they beat us and went to the state championship and the following season we beat them and went on to play in the state championship game, so it wasn’t just a rivalry in a small town — it was really good football."

Watson still marvels at the high school experience and how much he learned in those formative years.

"It’s amazing how quickly things change for you in the course of high school," said Watson. "You are a freshman looking up at these seniors like they are a world apart from you, and then three years later you are in that position. It’s a lot of responsibility being a senior; you are the leader not just on your team but in nearly every way. Just remember how you looked up to these guys when you were a freshman or sophomore, it’s how you are being viewed as a leader. It’s a time that you should really appreciate, because it goes by fast and I remember I was focused on that next year, on college, but there is nothing quite like the high school years."

Watson has enjoyed plenty of success during his football career, and last year he led the Cleveland Browns in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. But making sure to be prepared for life after football has always been a personal priority.

"For most high school football players it’s the last stop in their football careers," said Watson. "And really, even at the college level, it’s difficult to get to the professional level. That’s why you not only really need to enjoy the game while you have it, but also take the rest of your life seriously and what I really mean by that is your academics. That’s what you’ll really need in life; enjoy the cheering and playing the game, but it will end for everyone and there is a lot of life to be lived after football."

Senior Season: Rams DE Robert Quinn

November, 9, 2011
11/09/11
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Robert QuinnTim Steadman/Icon SMIDefensive end Robert Quinn chased down QBs at UNC and is now emerging as a force for the St. Louis Rams in the NFL.
There is something special about senior year in high school. It’s a particularly bittersweet time in life; the pinnacle of the high school experience but also the final year enjoying the friendships and familiarities developed over several years.

For high school football players it’s a similarly sentimental time, as it marks the final season spent under the Friday night lights. We spoke with several NFL players to discuss what makes this time in life so unique, and to share some of the lessons they’d like to impart to the class of 2012. This week’s inaugural edition features St. Louis Rams rookie Robert Quinn. Check back every Wednesday for the next five weeks for another installment of Senior Season.

Defensive end Robert Quinn, the St. Louis Rams’ first round pick this past April by way of UNC, attended high school at Fort Dorchester in North Charleston, S.C., and shared with us his inspiring story from his senior season.

As his final fall playing football for Fort Dorchester was nearing its conclusion, Quinn was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that required surgery and prematurely ended his final campaign with the Patriots.

"With my situation I learned that I was going to miss the rest of my final football season and it was really tough," said Quinn. “But I realized that it was something I couldn’t control and for the first couple of days after learning the details I was down about it. But after a while I decided that no matter what I was going to enjoy my life.

"I decided that if I was going to die in a week I was going to make sure I was happy,” Quinn said. "I don’t think anybody wants to die sad. I know it’s crazy to have thought this at 17, but at the time we didn’t really know the outcome of the situation and I developed this positive attitude while lying in that hospital bed. It was kind of weird because I knew that I had to help keep my parents and friends positive because they were looking to me."

After fully recovering Quinn was cleared to resume his athletic career, including back on the wrestling mat, where he was a three-time heavyweight state champ in 4A wrestling. Just three months after surgery Quinn went undefeated on his way to another state wrestling crown, a testament to his resolve and the positive perspective honed in the hospital.

Quinn endured this challenging time and went on to a strong college career as a Tar Heel at UNC and is now an emerging force for the Rams, with three sacks and a NFL special teams player of the week award already in his rookie campaign. While he never got to experience that final game on the gridiron with his teammates, he still fondly recollects the big games that defined his high school career.

"What I really remember about my high school days was playing in the big games," recalled Quinn. "Our biggest rivalry was with Summerville (Summerville, S.C.). They had A.J. Green of the Bengals and legendary coach (John) McKissick. When we played them it was the biggest thing in town; everybody showed up on Friday night and the town had a special feel and energy to it. Being under those lights was a great feeling. Although we were never able to beat them when I played, it was still special because everyone knew each other and had grown up together with their school being just a few minutes down the road. I did beat them in seventh grade on the B-team, but never got them in high school."

The tradition and pomp of the rivalry still resonates with Quinn.

"My junior year we had a big pep rally for the Summerville game and they had a skeleton figure of coach McKissick and threw it in a coffin. I know it sounds weird but it was all in fun and symbolized how we were wanted to beat them bad that week. It’s just one of those funny moments I remember that could only come from my high school days."

With the help of his father, who drove him to visit schools on most weekends during the summer leading up to senior year, Quinn navigated the recruiting process as a top football prospect.

"My advice to any players for the recruiting process would be to first rely on your parents or guardians or whomever is watching over you," said Quinn. "It’s really important to have priorities for what you are really looking for in a school and program. The facilities, campus and all of that are important, but it’s the people that really matter. Make sure you feel comfortable with the teammates you’ll be joining and the coaches you’ll be playing for, because the people really define your college experience more than anything else.

"A freshman in college also needs to learn to adapt,” Quinn said. “Be prepared to adapt to new challenges academically and with coaching styles. In high school many top recruits have it all figured out, but when you get to that next level it’s a new situation to adapt to. More than anything, you can’t let anyone persuade you where to go if you don’t feel comfortable. The only person waking up every day on that campus is you.

"More than anything it comes back to being positive, something I learned during my situation in senior year,” Quinn said. “You have to be positive about the experiences you go through, because that is the one thing you can truly control."

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