Johnny Quinn's Recruiting Journey

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Johnny Quinn on a reception vs. the Texas Longhorns

I hear all the time in sports that someone was blessed with God-given ability. So I got to thinking: What has God blessed me with? I’ll tell you. He blessed me with strong hand-eye coordination and a remarkable work ethic.

People have called me undersized, slow, and even weak; along with many other things, but one word you will not hear from anyone is lazy. Lazy gets you beat; it is selfish and it always hurts the team. Every day I answer this question: do you want to be the best today, or are you going to be lazy? The beautiful thing is that it’s up to me to decide and no one else. It does not matter if I am in the weight room, on the practice field or in a game. My teammates, coaching staff, family and friends always know I am going to give maximum effort, every time.

Drive and desire are incredibly valuable in a student-athlete, but there is a problem with these two assets: you can't measure them and you can not put them on paper for college coaches and scouts to see. When it was my turn for recruitment, my biggest and best assets could not be converted into a 40-yard dash, a bench press, a cone drill or height and weight. With experience, I learned I needed to do a better job of being PRO-ACTIVE, of taking action, and giving college coaches and scouts a great first impression, to demonstrate I wanted to be a part of their team.

Read my recruiting journey, exactly as it happened, and learn how The Athlete Watch can help make your journey a much smoother ride!

From the time I could walk and hold a ball, I loved sports. If it was physical, I wanted to play it. My football career only began in the seventh grade because my mom didn’t want me to play until it was a school sport. Being afraid I would get hurt, she also hoped my football career would only go as far as middle school. But in the seventh and eighth grades I won the Outstanding Wide Receiver Award, and it gave me the momentum I needed to convince her to let me play through high school.

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7th grade football

In my freshman year of high school I played football, basketball, baseball and ran track. It was by trying different sports that I learned football was my true passion. I told my parents I wanted to start focusing strictly on football so one day I could earn a scholarship and play in college. During my sophomore year of high school, I spent half the year on junior varsity and the other half on varsity. Unfortunately, I did not know at the time that a student’s sophomore year, especially in football, is when college scouts tend to start taking a hard look at prospects. I also didn’t know my sophomore year was when I needed to be PRO-ACTIVE in order to get my name out there. After limited playing time on the varsity team as a sophomore, and no letters and no calls, I knew I was not on any scout’s radar.

My junior year was better. Our team had the number one running back in the state, so we did not throw the ball much. I had 9 catches for 96 yards, averaging about one catch per game. Still I received no letters and no calls from college coaches. It was not until after my junior year that I caught a break. That summer I attended the Texas Tech University football camp and it turned out to be one of the best decisions my family made. It was there I had the opportunity to showcase my skills to the very people in charge of recruitment and stand out among hundreds of players. I performed well enough that I was selected to personally meet with the head coach at the time, Mike Leach. I was now on a college watch list, and on Texas Tech's radar.

By the time my senior year rolled around, I was excited Texas Tech was showing interest and would be sending scouts to watch me play during the upcoming season. Remember, Texas Tech found me because I found them first! Still, as my senior season started, my family and I could not understand how some football players already had scholarships and had committed to universities. Mom's favorite words of encouragement during the recruiting process, that turned out to be far from the truth, were, “If you are good enough, they will find you!”

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McKinney Lions Football

During my senior season a lot of footballs came my way. Every week The Dallas Morning News published a list of area receiving leaders and each week my name was at the top. Double-digit receptions in multiple games gave me a comfortable lead in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but I had no idea I was leading the state of Texas.

I soon faced a match-up against a nationally ranked defensive back that played in my district. This top-ranked recruit had committed to the University of Oklahoma his junior year, and every college scouting service had him high on their recruiting boards. To make a long story short, I finished the night with four touchdowns including the game winner in overtime. My family thought if I won the battle against one of the top-ranked defensive backs in the nation, who had already committed to one of the top college football programs in the nation, surely scouts would be knocking at my door and filling my mailbox with letters to come to their universities. After all of that game’s excitement, and continuing to increase my lead as the state leader in receptions, nothing changed for me in the recruiting process. The level of interest from small schools remained the same, and Texas Tech continued to keep tabs on me.

As a team we had a mediocre year, finishing 5-5 and missing the playoffs. Fortunately, with a good quarterback and offensive line, I was able to maintain the lead in receptions for the state and was a First Team selection to the Class 5A All-State Team, an honor given to the top two receivers in the state of Texas.

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Top 2 wide receivers in Texas

The following January, I had another opportunity to showcase my skills when I was selected to the Coca-Cola High School All-Star game. This All-Star game had the potential to give me an extra boost before signing day, and garner more interest from colleges and universities, which was exactly what I needed. I had a solid game, scoring the game-tying touchdown with a minute left in the fourth quarter. All-Star games do not have overtime for the safety of the players, so the East tied the West 14-14.

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Coca-Cola All Star Game

By the time high school football was over for me I had three official visits set up to Texas Tech, the University of North Texas and Illinois State University, in that order. I only wanted to play for Texas Tech, but my family made sure I took all of my visits in case Texas Tech did not offer me a scholarship.

The Texas Tech visit was great, until the day I sat in former head coach Mike Leach's office. He told me they were going to wait on a few other players they were recruiting, offering me, instead of the scholarship I wanted, a preferred walk-on spot. While my parents thought the visit was encouraging, I did not think so. Texas Tech was where I wanted to go, and I had the desire, drive and stats for a scholarship.

My next visit was to the University of North Texas. North Texas knew I was at Texas Tech a week before, and they put me with a host player who turned down a walk-on offer from Texas Tech. Universities know exactly what they are doing. The visit went great, until the last day. Former head coach Darrel Dickey did not offer me a scholarship, instead he said he wanted to wait and see about other players they were recruiting at the time.

I was two visits down. To my dismay I still had zero scholarship offers. But, I had one visit left, this time to Illinois State, leaving me one week before signing day. How could it be possible for the state receptions leader to have no offers? I took my visit to Illinois State, enjoyed the visit and was offered my very first scholarship, which came with a 24-hour deadline.

Needless to say, this was a big deal at my house. I had one scholarship offer and one preferred walk-on offer on the table. North Texas was out of the picture. After a heated discussion with my family, we agreed I would walk-on to Texas Tech and turn down a full scholarship to Illinois State. I wanted to show Texas Tech I could play at the Division I level and earn the scholarship I deserved.

Before I turned down Illinois State’s offer, North Texas came through with a scholarship the very next afternoon. Now I had two scholarships, and needed to re-think my decision about walking on to Texas Tech. After an easy discussion with my family, it made sense this time not to turn down a full scholarship. I gave Texas Tech one more chance to see if they would match North Texas' scholarship offer, but they did not. I became a Mean Green Eagle!

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Signing my full scholarship to the University of North Texas!

  • At the University of North Texas, Johnny Quinn was part of three football Sun Belt Conference championships (2002, 2003, 2004), played in three bowl games (2002, 2003, 2004), was a two-year team captain (2005, 2006) and finished as the school's all-time leading receiver in receptions (187) and receiving yards (2,718). Quinn walked on to the track & field team and anchored the 4x100 relay to the 3rd fastest time in school history (39.92) and a trip to the NCAA Regional Track & Field Championship in Austin, Texas. He was a three time first team All Conference wide receiver (2004, 2005, 2006) and a first team All Conference punts returner (2004). Quinn was nominated to the pre-season Bilentnikoff Watch List (2006) and finished 3rd in the country for consecutive games with a reception (47). He was invited to play in the 2007 North-South Classic All-Star game in Houston, Texas.
  • Quinn set numerous weight room marks at North Texas. He bench pressed 450 pounds, inclined pressed 405 pounds and power cleaned 380 pounds. He also set the fastest 40-yard dash for a wide receiver at 4.42 seconds. Quinn's track & field personal bests in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash were 10.62 seconds and 21.80 seconds, respectively. Quinn graduated from the University of North Texas in 2006 with a degree in Criminal Justice. In 2011, Quinn was inducted into the North Texas Hall of Fame as a first ballot candidate.
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    New Orleans Bowl & Sprint Relay

  • In 2007, Quinn was eligible for the NFL Draft and despite being in the top 10 statistical leaders for career receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, 34 wide receivers were drafted and he was not one of them. Immediately after the draft, Quinn signed his first NFL contract with the Buffalo Bills as a rookie free agent.
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    Buffalo Bills OTA's

  • After a brief stop in Buffalo, Quinn signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2008. After a strong off-season and being selected as a "Performer of the Week," Quinn played in four pre-season games making it to the final cut, but was then released.
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    Pre-season at Lambeau Field vs. Tennessee Titans

  • In 2009, Quinn went north of the border to the Canadian Football League and was a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Roughriders won the Western Division and met the Montreal Alouettes in the 97th Grey Cup, only to lose on a last-second field goal 28-27. Quinn started in four of the eight games he played in and scored his first professional touchdown on a 29-yard reception versus the B.C. Lions!
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    Calgary vs. Saskatchewan

  • Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game and Johnny tore his ACL in the last game of the regular season. With the help of Peak Physical Therapy and the Michael Johnson Performance Center, Johnny completed rehab of his surgically repaired knee in 5.5 months. A week prior to training camp the Saskatchewan Roughriders released him.
  • Despite the injuries and releases, the opportunities and experiences Quinn has had during his football career changed his life for the better and paved the way for new roads to be explored in the sport of Bobsled! Johnny Quinn sent film showcasing his speed and acceleration from the Michael Johnson Performance Center to Olympic bobsled athlete Chuck Berkeley, who passed it along to driver Cory Butner. After being accepted, Quinn’s first time in a bobsled was at team trails in Lake Placid, NY during the 2010-11 season, where the team finished third. Quinn is a current member of the U.S. National Bobsled Team and has been competing around the world: Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and United States. Quinn is an Olympic hopeful for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

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