Just The Man For The Job
By Joey Nelson
This story appeared in the September ‘12 issue of the UCF Football Gameday Program. The publication, which is published six times per year, provides an inside look at UCF student-athletes, coaches and alums.
Even though UCF’s speedster is in his senior season, fans still get excited talking about Quincy McDuffie’s high school days. He was one of the fastest track runners in the nation and it was his speed that led him to Bright House Networks Stadium.
Orlando’s Edgewater High School is just about 30 minutes from UCF. There, McDuffie collected five varsity letters: three from track and two from football. But he only played in two football games his senior year due to a rib injury. College programs did not have much tape on the young man, and for the most part, there was not much interest in McDuffie as a football player. However, his former high school coach, Bill Gierke, pressed UCF head coach George O’Leary to take a look. With McDuffie’s speed and the mutual respect the two coaches shared, it was an easy decision to keep McDuffie local and welcome his play to UCF.
From his first kickoff return in a UCF uniform, one that went for a 95-yard touchdown, to his 1,919 yards on just kick returns alone his first three seasons, McDuffie has proved his worth. Coaches and teammates expect big plays from McDuffie, whether it is a screen pass in the first quarter or a kick return that could lead to a comeback. Being accountable is something he holds in high regard. McDuffie loves it.
“It’s a wonderful feeling bringing that impact to the game and being able to contribute to your team’s success,” McDuffie said. “I take a lot of pride in it, knowing that they count on me. I’m always ready to step up and make those big plays.”
The Knights’ seasoned, yet powerful, special teams weapon has certainly done a great job of following through on making those key contributions and does it on not just the conference level, but at the national level as well. McDuffie ranked third in the country in kick return average his sophomore season and was named to the All-Conference USA First Team along with earning a spot on the CBS Sports All-America Second Team in 2010. McDuffie has amassed 856 receiving yards with 73 catches and four touchdowns and is looking to make even bigger plays as the Knights fight to take back the Conference USA title.
From a leaping touchdown catch between three Houston defenders that helped the Knights defeat their first ranked opponent in 2009, to even the nullified touchdown return on the opening kickoff against Georgia in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in 2010, McDuffie has had plenty of memories to call his own. But those memories would mean nothing without his teammates; his friends; his brothers. His most memorable moment as a Knight reflects that team-first, humble attitude.
“I would say [winning] the conference championship and [making] it to the Liberty Bowl are some of the best memories,” said McDuffie with a smile. “That was a very successful year and we were able to end on a good note for our seniors.”
Even with talks of returning to track and the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft, McDuffie is simply focused on winning football games.
“Right now I’m just worried about the season. We’ve got to take each game one at a time,” McDuffie explained. “When the time comes, through the grace of God, hopefully I can be given the opportunity or at least experience [the NFL] for a time.”
From being the local speedy threat, to a selfless team leader, it is simply what the work entails. And for the Knights, McDuffie is just the man for the job.