This year Quinn gets all the attention

Last year Robert Quinn was the talented bookend, the other huge defensive end that played opposite everybody’s All-American Carlos Dunlap at Fort Dorchester High School in North Charleston, South Carolina. Dunlap has moved on to the University of Florida now and the spotlight belongs to Quinn.

It’s a who’s who in college coaching that stops by Fort Dorchester on a regular basis now that it’s the spring evaluation period for recruiting. One prominent group of coaches that has stopped by is a familiar group at the school in the Charleston suburb — Florida coach Urban Meyer and his assistants, Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison. They spent a lot of time at the school last year when they were there to land Dunlap and now they’re back with Quinn as their target.

“I’ve been visited by Coach Strong, Coach Meyer and Coach Mattison,” said Quinn, a 6-4, 260-pounder. “They seemed cool, but I guess they are cool now until football season and then they have to toughen up.”

While the Gator coaches are working hard to convince Quinn to commit to UF, Dunlap is taking a less active role in the recruiting process for his former teammate.

“Me and Carlos are pretty good friends, but he isn’t really trying to recruit me to UF,” said Quinn. “He hated how much people bugged him, so he doesn’t want to be like everyone else.”

Quinn has already been to junior days at Auburn, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. He had planned on attending Alabama’s junior day, but he had a conflict that came up last minute. He said he hopes to visit UF this fall, because “they are the national champs.” Despite visiting all those schools and the intense recruiting by schools such as Florida, Quinn is still very unsure of his future.

“I have no top schools, I’ve got plenty of time to decide on that. Carlos told me to take my visits during the season so that is what I hope to do,” he said. “Then I’ll talk it over with my parents. My dad has already told me what schools he thinks are the best, but he said it is my choice. I plan on making my decision sometime after my senior season.”

His high school coach, Steve LaPrad, offered a little insight on where his star defensive end might be headed next year.

“He has already said he isn’t going to go somewhere where it is cold,” said LaPrad. “My guess is he’ll go somewhere that is within a 6-hour drive from home. I expect him to play in the SEC or the ACC.”

That leaves the Gators in the hunt for Quinn because according to “Mapquest” the trip from North Charleston to Gainesville is about five hours.

LaPrad said that Quinn took notice and benefited by watching schools recruit Carlos Dunlap.

“He learned a lot from Carlos,” said LaPrad. “Carlos paved the way for Robert to learn.”

When comparing Dunlap to Quinn, LaPrad said, “Robert doesn’t have the speed that Carlos has. Robert might be more physical, because he is a wrestler. They are both good competitors, who have different bodies. Robert could walk into probably any school in the nation and have the best body there. He has no body fat and he weighs 260. He is a man.”

As LaPrad said, Quinn wrestles during the winter and he excels at that as well. Quinn is the two-time state champion in the 275-pound class and hasn’t lost a match in about two and a half years.

While LaPrad moved Quinn to defensive end last year, Quinn said he still prefers playing outside linebacker.

“When I first started playing football that’s where I played and I like it a lot,” he said.

At this point, Quinn is unsure of what position he will play in college. But LaPrad believes Quin will excel no matter what position he plays.

“He is just such a tremendous athlete,” said LaPrad. “He has always been bigger and stronger than everyone else, he benches over 400 and squats over 600. He could play any position on our team, even quarterback. His love is linebacker, which he can play very well. He can play up or down.”

With his senior year fast approaching Quinn is working on his speed. He said his best 40-time is around a 4.7 and he would like to get down to around a 4.6.

“People say I don’t pick up my knees when I run so I am working on that,” he said.

Last season while playing opposite from Dunlap, Quinn recorded 80 tackles and 10 sacks. Now with Dunlap gone, there will be more pressure on Quinn to perform especially with defenses keying on him. He won’t just get plenty of attention from opponents, though. This 16-year-old star in the making is still growing. You can bet the parade of scouts and coaches to Fort Dorchester has just begun.