“It’s a very different feeling.”
Those were the words of Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Shaq Quarterman shortly after being selected by his hometown team in the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars took a chance on Quarterman in the fourth round of the NFL Draft last week, fulfilling his dream of playing in the NFL, and making it even more special by allowing him to play for the team he great up dreaming about.
The 6-foot-0, 234-pound linebacker out of the University of Miami was one of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s draft. After having one of the most productive careers a Miami linebacker has had, he was slated to be taken a little later in the draft perhaps due to concerns with with his speed or ability to cover the game from sideline-to-sideline.
However, one thing’s first certain, his slide was not due to his determination, leadership, or willingness to play hard and fast - under any circumstance.
A leader and a starter for four years at Miami, Quarterman never missed a game, starting 52 straight for the Hurricanes while tallying 356 tackles, 46.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, an interception, and five forced fumbles.
“When I saw that the Jaguars had the next pick and I got a phone call, I tried to make sure not to press the wrong button on my phone when trying to answer the phone call,” Quarterman said excitedly on a Zoom conference call with the media when asked about the phone call.
“So as soon as he said he was from the Jaguars, I almost started crying already. But yes, it was a different feeling. It’s hard to explain it.”
Prior to the draft, Quarterman met with the Jaguars a “couple of times”, specifically at the combine, talking with Jaguars linebackers coach Mark Collins for over an hour, first about Xs and Os, and then about life, “it was amazing”, Quarterman said.
“My future coach and I really hit it off from that point on. He really told me, ‘we’re going to grab you,’ and I was thinking a lot of teams say that. It’s the law of the land when it comes to the draft, but he was right. He was not playing with me.”
Quarterman’s leadership and productivity is what truly drew the Jaguars towards him, Jaguars director of college scouting Mark Ellenz quickly went over what he brings to the table during a Zoom video conference call with the local media last week.
“This kids a four-year starter, productive, smart, tough, all-about-ball, alpha male, leader, locker room guy. Kind of a guy you don’t mess with there, he’s been running the show since a freshman,” he said.
Quarterman says the high-praise from Ellenz “just comes from working”, typically overlooked during his football career, Quarterman is ready to prove once again that he’s worthy of the praise, and doesn’t expect it to come until after he proves himself as it has every step of the way leading to the NFL Draft.
“So the chip on my shoulder has always been there and its propelled me to every level, and it’s allowed me to go beyond the limits that I have set for myself.”
The former Florida Times-Union Defensive Player of the Year (2015), is ready to represent not only his former high school (Oakleaf High School), but now his university in the University of Miami, something extremely special and important to the 22 year old.
“People aren’t gonna say what school Shaquille Quaterman went to, they say Shaquille Quaterman represents the U, you know, he’s up there with the Ray Lewis, Jon Beason, BJ Williams, Jon Vilma,” said Quarterman.
“Not just because I went to the school and graduated but because I deserved to be there and that’s been my goal since going to Miami, since I committed to Miami. If I do what I’m supposed to and I’m amongst the names on that list, I did something right.”
Now, Quarterman will be able to represent both Miami and Jacksonville during at least the first four years of his NFL career, able to stay in his hometown, a dream come true for almost anyone.
“Representing the brand has always been a thing for me, especially Jacksonville with that 904. I’ve been throwing my fours up since I got to college. I’m excited.”