In 2006, as he does almost every year, Ridge View High coach Raymond Jennings was searching the halls for talent.
“We were aiming at a state championship, and I remember (Jennings) was like, ‘Who else can we get? Who else can we get?’ ” said Tres Fulmore, a starting linebacker on the team.
So Fulmore decided to make one more run at his cousin, Brian Quick, a senior starter on the basketball team who had rebuffed earlier recruiting efforts.
“I had to work on that boy for two years. He’s could have come out two years before, but he loved basketball,” Fulmore said. “They added him on (the team), and the rest is history.”
That one season of high school football vaulted the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Quick to a record-setting career at Appalachian State and the doorstep of pro football. The Columbia native is expected to be picked this week in either the second or third round of the NFL draft.
“I took a chance, and after that, I fell in love with it. I thank (Fulmore) for that,” Quick said. “I’m like, ‘If it wasn’t for you telling me to go play, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now.’ ”
Quick’s ability was evident almost immediately, Jennings said.
“The day he came out for football, I was saying, ‘One day we are going to forget about Michael Irvin,’” Jennings said. “Brian Quick is so big and so explosive. I don’t think the receiver position has seen that.”
Fulmore became a believer during a jamboree game against Fairfield Central.
The quarterback “threw a pass that was line drive, and there was no way anybody would have been able to make that catch,” he said. “Somehow he caught it and managed to get 20 more yards. I was like, ‘Holy crap, he is going to be monster.’ ”
On the field was the easy part for Quick. When he entered his senior season, Quick had a 1.7 GPA, Jennings said. No matter how good he was, there was no way he was going to play college football unless that went way up. Jennings enlisted the help of Anthony Stovall, whose son was a kicker for the team and who operates FHL 430, a leadership mentoring program.
“We began to really talk about some personal things in Brian’s life, and I just encouraged him to move forward. And part of that was doing his best in school,” Stovall said. “I told him that would be the key to everything else.”
Stovall asked Jennings to keep a journal throughout his senior year of high school.
“In that notepad, you can see in Brian’s writing where he was beginning to really change as far as his attitude,” Stovall said. “I just maintained a relationship with Brian as a fatherly role model. We all just tried to show Brian that we cared about him, and it was important for him to have success first as a person and a citizen and then as an athlete.”
Quick was raised by his mother Shirley Quick, Jennings said.
“I think he’s a credit to his mom,” the coach said. “I haven’t met a dad yet. That boy loves him mama. He’s well grounded.”
Quick ran a 4.55-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, but he didn’t think it was his size and speed combination that set him apart from the rest of the wide receivers there.
“A lot of people are looking at our body builds, and we look the same; but as people we are different,” he said. “My character will separate me from a lot of people.”
Quick’s GPA after his senior season was a 2.43, Jennings said, good enough to earn a college football scholarship. The problem was Quick had played only one season and, by the time he received a qualifying test score, both South Carolina and Clemson had filled their signing classes.
With no other options, Jennings had one of his assistant coaches call a former college teammate, South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott, then an assistant coach with the Mountaineers.
“It was a stroke of luck,” Elliott said. “We knew he was going to be a project player at first, but he had great upside.”
Quick made an impact immediately at Appalachian State by blocking a field goal in the Mountaineers’ upset of Michigan, but it wasn’t until his sophomore season that he decided he belonged at that level. He started the season with two catches in the first six games but caught seven touchdown passes in the last half of the season, including scores of 58, 50 and 31 yards in a nationally televised game against Wofford.
“It was a Friday night, Halloween,” Elliott said of the Wofford game. “The things he did that night were just unbelievable. It was really his coming out party, and his success has gone on from there.”
Quick finished his career as the Mountaineers’ career leader in receptions (202), receiving yards (3,410) and receiving touchdowns (31).
“I never would have thought I would be so good or taking that next step,” Quick said. “I can tell you it was a long transition, and I am pretty proud of myself.”
Quick’s size, speed and production are only part of the reason NFL teams covet him, said National Football Post analyst Wes Bunting. The fact that he’s played only five years of football and has a basketball background means pro coaches feel like he has more room to grow on the gridiron.
“People love that (basketball) right now,” Bunting said.
“I still have a lot of learning and growing to do,” Quick said, “but I am ready to take the next step.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars sent a scout to spend a day at Ridge View recently to do more research on Quick, Jennings said. The scout got nothing but rave reviews.
“He’s already a success,” Stovall said, “but I think he’s going to be an even greater success and not just as a football player but as a citizen and as a young man.”
Quick and his family will watch the draft together on Friday and Saturday in Columbia, said Fulmore, who works for Time Warner Cable and K&W Carpet Cleaners in Columbia. Quick will be delighted wherever he is picked, he said.
“It really doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “They will find me if they really want me. Whoever wants me, they will pick me so I am not worried about that too much.”
As soon as Quick is selected, Jennings will put that in his recruiting pitch for the next non-football playing athlete he comes across in the halls at Ridge View.
“When we were winning football games over here at Ridge View, our football team was made up of football, track guys and basketball,” Jennings said “I’ve got them walking around the building right now that look just like Quick.”