Tennessee is searching high and low to find skill position players on the offense after a mass exodus of talent following the 2012 season and one uncommon place they may have found a gem is on the volleyball court.
Junior college transfer Woody Quinn was a standout volleyball player in the 2012 season for California Baptist University after starting his college career at Volleyball powerhouse Pepperdine where he redshirted as a freshman.
However, it was his transfer to Santa Ana Junior College in California where he started playing football again. Quinn has only one season of football under his belt at St. Margaret’s Episcopal in San Juan Capistrano, but appeared in nine games for Santa Ana last season making 15 catches for 252 yards and one touchdown.
“I’m excited, but I’m going to go out every day with the right attitude,” Quinn said, according to GoVolsXtra. “It’s not make-or-break on day one for me. For a lot of the guys, it’s a building process. It’s a work day tomorrow.”
The 6’6”, 250 pound Quinn has the frame and athleticism to play tight end and teams have had success finding players from basketball to play the position, notably Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez who also played basketball in college. Volleyball, however, is a first to my knowledge, so he is an incredibly raw prospect and shouldn’t necessarily be counted on for having an immediate impact.
Butch Jones made comments after practice this weekend on the tight end position:
“I think our tight end position is progressing,” Jones said, according to Tennessee Sports Radio. “The addition of Woody Quinn has really helped that. He brings another level of competition. He is a gifted athlete. He is continuing to learn the physicality of playing football. He is extremely intelligent.”
The Vols have a need for playmakers at the position with Mychal Rivera gone and have Brendon Downs and Joseph Ayres ahead of him on the depth chart, but as he gains valuable reps in practice I think he could be a surprise later in the year.
Quinn has added about 45 pounds to get his body ready for SEC and if he can handle the rigors of the position, he could be a valuable receiver in the red zone. His vertical jump is reportedly off the charts as you may expect from a former volleyball player, so put him in jump ball situations and let the big man go up and get it.
With two years of eligibility left, he has time to learn the nuances of the position and adapt to the physicality of the sport and the position. He doesn’t need to be the next Gates or Gonzalez for Tennessee, but depending on his success we may see more college coaches scouting the volleyball courts for the next Woody Quinn.