New UT tight end Woody Quinn ready to transition from volleyball

University of Tennessee tight end Woody Quinn talks with reporters during a press conference at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel staff)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

University of Tennessee tight end Woody Quinn talks with reporters during a press conference at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel staff)

UT tight end Woody Quinn talks about his excitement to begin practice on Friday

Standing 5 feet from Tennessee’s 1998 BCS championship trophy and engulfed by 22 reporters recording his every word, Woody Quinn offered this confession: “I never thought that I’d end up here.”

Just moments before, he strolled into UT’s lavish Anderson Training Center with a perceptible sense of California cool. Quinn, the Vols’ mysterious new tight end, sported large shades, blue and green shorts that words can’t describe and white socks pulled up to mid-calf.

Quickly, a UT staffer tossed Quinn a black golf shirt adorned with a proper Power T. He was directed into the Anderson Center pavilion as the media scurried into position. Immediately he was peppered like a bland steak.

“What’s it like to all the sudden be in the middle of all this?” Quinn was asked.

“I wouldn’t say it’s nerve-wracking, it’s just new,” the 6-foot-6 21-year-old said on Thursday. “It’s flattering, but at the same time humbling, in that I know this is fun and kind of cool and this is Tennessee, but I still haven’t done anything.”

Which makes this all the more interesting.

Quinn stuck out among all the Vols to arrive for Thursday’s official preseason camp check-in. He’s an enigma — a volleyball player turned SEC football player from the sand and splendor of Orange County, Calif.

Friday will bring Quinn to the UT practice fields alongside his new teammates. At this time last year, he was preparing to line up on the football field for the first time in five years.

Rewinding to August 2012, Quinn was at Santa Ana College, a junior college 30 miles south of Los Angeles. A promising volleyball career had brought him from St. Margaret’s Episcopal High School to Pepperdine University to California Baptist University.

The long road of spikes and sets had a rearview mirror, though. Quinn always remembered back to playing football as a freshman on the junior varsity team at St. Margaret’s. It was an itch he couldn’t scratch.

“I kind of had this volleyball thing going and I didn’t want to mess it up,” he said Thursday, adding, “It was hard for me to watch football, thinking I wish I could do that or I think I can do that.”

So Quinn did it. He says he “took the leap” back to football, hoping merely to land at a Division I program after a year at the juco level. Now he’s suddenly in the big, bad SEC.

Here’s how: Late last season former UT assistant Josh Conklin got his hands on Quinn’s game film from Santa Ana, where he caught 15 passes, one for a touchdown. Natural gifts were exposed. Despite knowing a guillotine hung above his head, Conklin continued to recruit Quinn while waiting to be fired in the closing days of the Derek Dooley Era.

After being fired, Conklin left Quinn’s information behind for his successors. He still wanted him to land at Tennessee.

“That was recruiting in its purest form,” Quinn said.

New UT tight ends coach Mark Elder finished the job for Conklin, offering Quinn a scholarship and securing a commitment.

Now comes the hard part. Quinn will step on the field Friday with little learning curve. The season starts in 30 days, a tight box of time to learn coach Butch Jones’ offense, get acclimated to the speed of the game and, you know, prepare for his second year of football since 2006.

“It’s three weeks so it’s going to be a long road,” he said. “I’m excited, but I’m going to go out every day with the right attitude. 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.”

Remembering back to last season at Santa Ana, Quinn tells the story of his first game. His name was called on the opening play. Running a 10- or 12-yard pattern, he turned to catch a pass as the pitter-pat of cleats closed in from behind.

“The cornerback thought he was going to light me up,” Quinn recounted.

Taking the hit, he tussled forward, fought back and finally went down.

“After that it was like, all right, this is going to be good,” Quinn said.

And it was good, which is why Quinn is here.

Whether he believes it or not.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee football and men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 35

Olddogsrule writes:

Well Woody, "tusseling forward" in the
SEC's gonna be a whole new thang!

You're gonna get hit hard an yer bell'l be ringin', an someone's gonna say, "Welcome to the SEC!"

snafu14u#241639 writes:

In our search for linemen on both sides of the ball I'd like to see UT reopen the pipeline to American Samoa. We use to do quite well there. Plus those guys are naturally strong and play with big motors. Bonzai Vol.

Orange_Beach writes:

Volleyball? But we are talking about Tennessee.

SevenT writes:

Desperate for a tight end.....pick up the volleyball player. That sure sounds like a winning plan!!

lahvolman2 writes:

in response to SevenT:

Desperate for a tight end.....pick up the volleyball player. That sure sounds like a winning plan!!

T, if my life ever becomes as shallow and empty as yours, I'll eat the south end of a northbound 38 special!!!!! What a loser....

CoverOrange writes:

As a volleyball player I'm sure he has vertical capability and good timing. Catching only 15 passes makes me think he may be a blocking tight end. Odd trail to go from Pepperdine to Cal Baptist to Santa Ana JC. Hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Chappy writes:

Isn't he a little young to be wearing a wig?

JUST KIDDING EVERYONE!

Got to admire anyone who follows a dream even when the odds are against him. Win or lose, that's the kind of VOL attitude and spirit we need. Who knows? he may be UT's Rudy.

GerryOP writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

As a volleyball player I'm sure he has vertical capability and good timing. Catching only 15 passes makes me think he may be a blocking tight end. Odd trail to go from Pepperdine to Cal Baptist to Santa Ana JC. Hope to be pleasantly surprised.

CO, I think we will be plesantly surprised with a lot things about this footVol team.

BlueHarley writes:

Surf's up dude........

AppreciativeAlum writes:

That might be 15 in one game. Tight ends can be difficult to cover.

calvol writes:

Good luck young man! plenty of great tight ends have transitioned from basketball, volleyball not too different in terms of quickness, elevation, and timing. Hopefully he'll do well.

PS, not familiar with Ocean County, Santa Ana JC is in Orange County. If we are going to recruit out here we need to get the geography right or look foolish to those out west reading these articles. Pepperdine and Cal Baptist are big time volleyball schools, electing to go the football route required a stop at a JC (neither of the mentioned schools has football). For the poster interested in Samoan players, Cali is the place to find them. SoCal high schools and JC's are loaded with Samoans and Tongans. GBO!

VolzsFan writes:

in response to calvol:

Good luck young man! plenty of great tight ends have transitioned from basketball, volleyball not too different in terms of quickness, elevation, and timing. Hopefully he'll do well.

PS, not familiar with Ocean County, Santa Ana JC is in Orange County. If we are going to recruit out here we need to get the geography right or look foolish to those out west reading these articles. Pepperdine and Cal Baptist are big time volleyball schools, electing to go the football route required a stop at a JC (neither of the mentioned schools has football). For the poster interested in Samoan players, Cali is the place to find them. SoCal high schools and JC's are loaded with Samoans and Tongans. GBO!

While yes Santa Anna College is in Orange County (and what the writer should have said) it is also about 30 miles south of LA.

6972 writes:

At 6'6 I think I could hit a target that big. Throw it up and let him go up and get it.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to GerryOP:

CO, I think we will be plesantly surprised with a lot things about this footVol team.

5 in the top 10
3 in the top 5
All 5 in a 6 game stretch over 7 weeks
We need multiple pleasant surprises back to back to back to back to back.
I seriously don't know what to expect this year.

SewaneeVolFan writes:

in response to SevenT:

Desperate for a tight end.....pick up the volleyball player. That sure sounds like a winning plan!!

Riiiight. Those v-ball guys just CAN'T be good athletes, and NO ONE ever makes the transition from one sport to another. Sprinters NEVER make good wide receivers, after all, so obviously no v-ball player, especially if he played football in juco, is EVER going to improve the position at UT.

Sheesh.

DawgDayAfternoon writes:

Another Vol two star moment. Devron Young, Cody Blanc and Woody. Good luck with that trio.

John_10065 writes:

in response to SevenT:

Desperate for a tight end.....pick up the volleyball player. That sure sounds like a winning plan!!

Desperate to post BS....sign up on another team's message board. That sure sounds like a trolling plan!

8inarow writes:

Girls volleyball? I must admit, the girls programs have kept the Vols in the news. If it weren't for them, the Vols would get no press at all.

usafvol writes:

in response to 8inarow:

Girls volleyball? I must admit, the girls programs have kept the Vols in the news. If it weren't for them, the Vols would get no press at all.

Any arrests today douche?

Harrit writes:

Lets not forget, there have been some recent success stories from the Southern California Juco-ranks at UT. S Byron Moore and his pick-six between the hedges, as well as TE Mychal Rivera come to mind, and Mr. Lauderdale will step on campus next year. Let me remind you, and this is the key. This coaching staff believes in him. Enough said, and I fully expect Big Dan, AJ, and LaDarrell and company will do a good enough job checkin'in under the hood, kick'in the tires, and removing the rust. Woody said all the right things, so I think he's ready!

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to SewaneeVolFan:

Riiiight. Those v-ball guys just CAN'T be good athletes, and NO ONE ever makes the transition from one sport to another. Sprinters NEVER make good wide receivers, after all, so obviously no v-ball player, especially if he played football in juco, is EVER going to improve the position at UT.

Sheesh.

Just read where previous VB'er & now TE Woody can "leap darn near 12 feet high" ... hmmm at 6'6" with these new 'targeting rules' on 3rd an 3 he could jus walk 4 yards an hop up to catch one over these lil DE's fer a 1st down.

Then tussel as fer as he could get.

GO WOODY!

bUTch_please writes:

This is one of those deals that is just enough out of SOP to work like a charm. Perfect year for it, we don't have to have the worlds most capable blocking TE, our line can hold its own. Passing game will be tilted slightly to the short yardage side of the playbook anyway. Impressed Coach Jones enough in the spring with his work ethic and consistency to rate 1st on the depth chart. 6'6". Should be fun to watch.

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

Give Grady Quinn some GRITS the first day, and see how pretty boy from California likes getting hit in the mouth. At least now Heather Harrington of WNML (6-1) can date someone that she can look up to.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to lahvolman2:

T, if my life ever becomes as shallow and empty as yours, I'll eat the south end of a northbound 38 special!!!!! What a loser....

lahvolman2..question...why would you respond to that type of a post? He throws it out there and next checks back...let that phooey go...

tennrich1 writes:

in response to usafvol:

Any arrests today douche?

usafvol...you are becoming the joke...responding to that stuff...let it go man...let it go...

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to Henley-Street-Bridge:

Give Grady Quinn some GRITS the first day, and see how pretty boy from California likes getting hit in the mouth. At least now Heather Harrington of WNML (6-1) can date someone that she can look up to.

^^this from a bridge troll

what!!???

Grady? GRITS? 'Ceptin fer some kid, Onliest GRADY Quinn ah fount when ah googled hisownself was on uh FB page. An, like you, one o' his favs wuz 'masterbaitin to yerself'.

An! when ah googled BRADY Quinn to see how high he could jump ah saw sumpthin you gals udshore like.

There's uh sidebar there and ah saw where you cleat groupies could getcher very own Grady Quinn fer 75% off wi' FREE SHIPPING! At's uh big boy now, free shippin' ain't nuthin to spit at.

Oh! an ah just checked, onliest thing you can get fer Henley-Street-Bridge is uh picture o' thuh actual bridge. Guess you cain't get no sportin' bridge trolls online.

wononta writes:

I got to get a look at this guy Quinn.

I like the TE's we have now. Downs is my guy, reminds me of Stocker. Meridth provides depth, and big boy could break out.

GerryOP writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

5 in the top 10
3 in the top 5
All 5 in a 6 game stretch over 7 weeks
We need multiple pleasant surprises back to back to back to back to back.
I seriously don't know what to expect this year.

No, I don't know what to expect this year either. But, I do know that this is college football and every year every team starts out the same.

Any predicted rankings or ratings are based on last year and whatever sportswriters think. Soooo, let's play the games and see how it goes.

I believe what I hope every player, coach, and everyone associated with our footVols believes ... every game is winnable. How about we let our footVols play the games and see how they come out. Every game is winnable.

I continue to believe that our Vols are going to surprise a lot of people this year.

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to SevenT:

Desperate for a tight end.....pick up the volleyball player. That sure sounds like a winning plan!!

88 - 58

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to SevenT:

Desperate for a tight end.....pick up the volleyball player. That sure sounds like a winning plan!!

An in Football total wins

Volunteers - 75
Kentucky - 24

I do believe that indicates a winning plan there 7 Teeth. That's just Smurfkitties gettin' frogstomped regular now.

TnOrange4Life writes:

Keep up the awesome recruiting guys, maybe stumble upon another Corderelle Paterson or two.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

A good athlete is a good athlete. If he works hard and wants it bad enough...who knows. You have my support Woody. Give em hell!

Go Vols!

RashaadSalabeb writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

Another Vol two star moment. Devron Young, Cody Blanc and Woody. Good luck with that trio.

Each one of these guys will be productive. Guys, if you are reading this, do you need any more incentive to prove yourself? You already have the talent. Now just put in the work and make sure you have the "dog" in you!

Go Vols! Don't ever let someone tell you you can't do something!

snowvol writes:

My suspicion - they don't waste a scholarship on someone unless after watching film they have a strong idea he'll fit, he'll succeed and perhaps... he'll thrive.

For those dismissing volleyball - these guys are some of the most skilled athletes in the world. Watch a match. Hand-eye coordination, leaping ability, quickness, toughness. I like the possibilities. From where the Vols have been, why shouldn't Butch Jones think more broadly.

The last regime was as conservative thinking as the Big Ten in the '50's. I like the move... if it doesn't pan out, so be it. If it does, who benefits? We do. Florida has done that for years, converting guys from another sport. So have USC and Oklahoma. They've all done it with solid results.

No reason to knock it before seeing the on-field results.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Olddogsrule:

Just read where previous VB'er & now TE Woody can "leap darn near 12 feet high" ... hmmm at 6'6" with these new 'targeting rules' on 3rd an 3 he could jus walk 4 yards an hop up to catch one over these lil DE's fer a 1st down.

Then tussel as fer as he could get.

GO WOODY!

You know, I had forgotten about the new rules for hits on "defenseless" players. However, the main thing tall receivers fear going across the middle is some DB or LB catching him in the short ribs while stretching out for a catch. If Woody can survive a few of those in practice, or has already come to terms with it, he could be quite a weapon on the goal line.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features