Rollins’ college career is almost over after one year of college football, but his football playing days are just beginning
Quinten Rollins may have switched sports from basketball to football, but his number stayed the same. If he makes it to the NFL, he’ll have to change numbers. Defensive backs can only wear numbers 20 to 49. Below photo by Ben Taylor, above by Lauren Olson, Photography Editor
Last year, Quinten Rollins was playing basketball for Miami University. This year, the 6-foot, 203-pounder is playing cornerback for the Miami football team. Next year, the 22-year-old hopes to play in the NFL.
“I’m definitely trying to get to the next level,” Rollins said. “I didn’t come out here to just do this for fun.”
It might seem like a crazy concept for someone who rarely played defense in high school and spent the past four seasons playing point guard, but the odds are in Rollins’ favor.
“He’s gonna get drafted …” head football coach Chuck Martin said. “I think people will be surprised how high. It’s too early to tell [exactly how high]. He’s gonna have to do the post [season] stuff, but he’s definitely getting drafted somewhere from the first through seventh rounds.”
But, the Wilmington, Ohio native isn’t just shooting for the NFL for himself. He’s also trying to provide for his 3-year-old daughter Quinlyn.
“Back home, got a daughter,” Rollins said. “She’s everything to me. That’s the other reason I’m doing this. Trying to give her the world. Give her things I couldn’t do growing up.”
Rollins’ eyes light up when he talks about his daughter.
“She’s 3, about to be 4 in December,” Rollins said, smiling. “Thinks she’s grown, thinks she knows everything. But that’s daddy’s little girl, so she can get away with some things. To a certain extent.”
Senior wide receiver David Frazier is one of Rollins’ best friends on the football team. The two have known each other since Frazier arrived on campus and the two grew close when Rollins joined the football team. Frazier said he talks about Quinlyn with the “laid-back” player nicknamed “Q.”
“I haven’t met her, but we always talk about her,” Frazier said. “I talk about her to him a lot. Just ask how she is doing and let him know he needs do what he’s gotta do. Cause you know he’s going to the next level and he’s gonna have her and she’s gonna be happy.”
Frazier and Martin speak matter-of-factly when they say Rollins will be in the NFL, and they aren’t the only ones.
“His talent is very good,” defensive backs coach John Hauser said. “He’s one of the better kids I’ve ever coached and I had a guy play in the NFL. Great player, very athletic. A lot of desire to be great. Just being a senior, being through college athletics, he really gets it. I mean he’s put everything he’s had into it.”
Rollins almost didn’t play for four years with the Miami basketball team. He contemplated leaving the squad during his sophomore season.
“My sophomore year I thought about it when Charlie Coles retired …” Rollins said. “But something told me just stay the course and stick with basketball and give the new coaching staff a chance and see what they want to do. And it really led me to this position, where I was fortunate enough to get a fifth year, instead of crossing over early and finish out four years of basketball …”
Given his success on the gridiron, few would blame Rollins for wondering if he should have moved to football sooner. But Rollins wouldn’t change a thing.
“I’d do the exact same thing,” Rollins said. “No matter how much fun I’m having out here, despite the wins and losses, I couldn’t trade that basketball experience. Not the relationships built, not the time spent, not the hard work I put in with those guys. I couldn’t trade that. I’d definitely do it the same
way over again.”
Those four years on the court, as strange as it sounds, may have helped Rollins become a better football player.
“It’s not an easy transition for everybody, but being a point guard [helps him],” Hauser said. “Some of the best hips, feet and ball skills. Ball skills are a hard thing to coach and he’s got all those.”
Rollins’ first year has been spectacular. He’s racked up 66 tackles, four tackles for loss, five interceptions, nine pass breakups and 14 passes defended. Rollins is tied for seventh in the nation in picks, but hasn’t even come close to reaching his potential. And NFL teams know that.
“It puts me in a good spot because I played in high school, came out here after playing basketball for four years, and doing some of the things I’m doing, it intrigues a lot of people at the next level,” Rollins said.
Scouts like what they see and they watch Rollins on a regular basis.
“There are guys here everyday watching him,” Hauser said. “There are guys at every game watching him. Everybody likes him. He has some stuff to work on. He has to learn, learn, learn. There is going to be a lot of stuff that is going to be thrown at him. I think he has the mindset, the athletic ability and he has a ton of upside.”
Rollins is quick to point out he’s still learning. He doesn’t totally get the technical aspect and is raw. After all, he’s played in just 11 games. But’s he’s getting better each week.
“Week one the game was so fast,” Rollins said. “Now … the game has slowed down so much for me. I’m able to read stuff now.”
The self-described “film-head” and “homebody” uses much of his free time to watch film.
“The only time I consider free time is when I’m about to lay it down,” Rollins said. “And even then, I’m just on film. I really am. I go through classes, get treatment, taking care of my body, get something to eat. Kick it with maybe some of the football players. Then when I get home, shower and open up the iPad and do some learning.”
Rollins has already graduated from Miami with a degree in sports studies. And with so much of his time devoted to football, it’s not surprising that it’s tough at times to focus on school.
“It’s kinda hard, because I’ve already got my 128 credits and graduated. I’ve already walked … I’m not gonna be here next semester … It’s hard at times to stay focused in school. You gotta put so much time and effort into football each week. Homework or film? You gotta balance, but which one is more important? I’m not gonna say which one I feel is more important at this time, but I think you know where I’m coming from.”
Once the season wraps up, Rollins’ focus will turn to preparing for the NFL Draft. That means training for post-season events like the NFL Combine, Miami’s Pro Day and workouts with teams. It also means the Senior Bowl, which Rollins was just invited to.
“Really wasn’t expecting it,” Rollins said. “Just kind of came out of nowhere. Really enjoyed the way I found out with the team. Just looking forward to the opportunity to get out and compete with the so-called best players in the country and see where I match up with them.”
The Senior Bowl is when NFL teams will get their chance to really breakdown Rollins and his game. So far, Martin says they haven’t found much to complain about.
“The NFL guys are shaking their heads, trying to pick a hole in a kid that has played  games,” Martin said. “And they really can’t. [He’s got] explosiveness, change of direction, speed, strength … athletically he’s a rare, rare human being.”
If Rollins stays on the path he’s on, he’ll have gone from the hardwood on Saturdays to the gridiron on Sundays. Those around him believe he’ll do just that.
“I tell him all the time, ‘you’re about to go to the NFL,’” Frazier said. “I know it.”