Brian Quick – A Quick Study
Everyone remembers exactly where they were on that fateful day. It made the front page of the NY Times. I know that Jake Long, Chad Henne, and Mario Manningham remember. They were there. And if your name is Brian Quick, an unheralded Appalachian State freshman WR, playing in your very first college game, you remember being on the field, leaping high in the air, and blocking the field goal that led to the fourth quarter go-ahead touchdown, as Appalachian State knocked off the fifth ranked Michigan Wolverines 34-32, in what the NY Times called the “most important game in small school college football history.” Not a bad first game for a kid only three months out of twelfth grade, where he was a South Carolina prep basketball star, who only played one year of high school football. And on that fateful afternoon in the Big House in Ann Arbor, he had no idea how to transition from small school special teams standout to big time NFL draft prospect, but he proved to be a quick study.
Coming to Appalachian State, Quick was barely recruited, stating “never in a million years” did he think he’d garner the attention that he has over the course of his college career. Named a 2011 FCS All American by the Football Coaches Association, Quick leaves for the NFL as the Mountaineers’ all-time touchdown leader with 31, after racking up 202 receptions and 3418 career yards, with 7 100+ yard games in 2011, including a 119 yard, 2 TD clutch performance in a win against #1 ranked Georgia Southern. At 6’5”, 220 pounds, Quick is tall and lean, thin by NFL standards, but possesses the agility, balance, and body control of a smaller receiver. Built like Plaxico Burress coming out of Michigan State, Quick could fill out his frame similarly over the course of his career, and with his long arms, big hands, and elite leaping ability, that career could be a long one.
Quick possesses better than average, but not top level, speed. A long strider who takes a while to reach top gear, Quick can gain separation from defensive backs downfield, but he’s not a consistent deep threat who stretches the defense vertically. He hasn’t faced much press coverage in college, and though he shows an adeptness at using his arm length to fend off and disengage from cornerbacks, this is a skill that will need further development in the NFL, where he will square off with more physical defenders every Sunday. Quick is not explosive off the line, but without much wasted motion, he gets on top of cornerbacks quicker than they expect, displaying good short area quickness and, for a big WR, a surprisingly fluid change of direction. He keeps a good low pad level when accelerating out of breaks, sinking his hips and making sharp cuts with no jab or shuffle steps, showcasing a defined burst.
As a route runner, Quick generally is precise coming in and out of breaks, gaining separation from defensive backs by showing the ability to change direction without gearing down. At times, he will round off patterns, and exhibits the tendency to get lazy on comeback routes, not aggressively working back to the quarterback. As a big receiver, he’s not easily rerouted near the line of scrimmage; however, he’s not as physical when encountering contact down the field and struggles versus the double-team. He exhibits decent instincts and feel when working intermediate and underneath routes, but due to the rudimentary route tree employed at Appalachian State, he is not a developed exploiter of complex zone coverages or advanced route schemes.
As a catcher of the ball, Quick is as good as anyone in college football. With big, soft hands, he naturally catches the ball away from his body, tracking it well in the air, then attacking it and bringing it in. His size and long arms provide him with a huge catching radius, in which he routinely snags balls outside his frame and adjusts well to poorly thrown passes, especially scooping low throws off the turf. In addition, he exhibits premier body control, both in traffic and when making plays along the sideline while dragging a foot inbounds. Maybe most impressively, he shows rare leaping ability and polished ball skills, making use of his basketball background to shield defenders with his body and out-jump them to snatch the ball at its highest point, making him a dangerous red zone threat at the next level.
After the catch, Quick moves fluidly with the ball, displaying quickness not typically found in a big receiver, generally gaining additional yardage. He’s not a cutback, homerun threat, but he accelerates well after the reception, and at times will make tacklers miss in space. Though not a powerful runner by any means, he will run through weaker arm tackles, and if he gets loose in the second level can take it all the way to the house. As a receiver at Appalachian State, which runs a predominantly run oriented offense, Quick has extensive experience as a blocker, a skill that he feels is his most developed. “It’s definitely a mentality, a want to… so I think block first,” he’s been quoted as saying. On film, Quick is obviously not a road-grader, but he takes good angles, understanding leverage and body position, and seals off defenders effectively. He’s not going to “lay out” any opponents, and at times gets too high initially, losing leg drive and allowing defensive backs to disengage too easily, but, in most cases, he gets himself in good position and give a genuine effort on a consistent basis, something that NFL running backs will appreciate.
Like the proverbial iceberg, with just the tip showing and 7/8 still below the water, Quick is an unpolished gem just scratching the surface of his potential. Having played in a run first offense, where he was routinely double-teamed and saw safties rolled his way, he wasn’t provided the opportunity to post jaw-dropping statistics, yet he still became a record setting collegiate wide receiver after playing only one year of high school football. Because of his size and lack of elite speed, he’s largely considered a possession receiver rather than a big play prospect; however, his career yards/catch average is 17.1, which is higher than those of fellow draft classmates Justin Blackmon, Alshon Jeffery, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, and Dwight Jones. And, every 7th reception for this Mountaineer is a touchdown, so in essence, you get the best of both worlds.
For Brian Quick, looking back after a highlght film career, that blocked field goal against Michigan must feel like a thousand years in the past. And, though he’s come this far, he knows that he has miles to go. Whereas at the FCS level he could routinely beat defenders using only raw athleticism, next year he’ll be asked to process both pre- and post-snap information on a whole new level. He’s still raw, with a yet to be fully developed football IQ, so he still has a lot to learn. But that’s just fine because Brian, like NFL talent evaluators, is catching on quick.