FLEMING ISLAND - Former Oakleaf High football linebacker Shaq Quarterman returned to Clay County Sunday afternoon for a quick visit to watch and chat with a summer camp staged by the FIAA Eagles …
FLEMING ISLAND - Former Oakleaf High football linebacker Shaq Quarterman returned to Clay County Sunday afternoon for a quick visit to watch and chat with a summer camp staged by the FIAA Eagles youth football association.
“I love being back home and being around kids like this that are pursuing their dream,” said Quarterman, now a third year linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the National Football League. “My cousin Dominique (FIAA Eagles coach Dominique Easterly) ran me through the same drills that he is putting you guys through today 10 years ago.”
For Easterly and FIAA Eagles football operations director Gio Portabanco, the first of the four camps set for the summer preparations for fall football, was special with Quarterman on hand.
“He’s such a great athlete and a great person with a great family,” said Portabanco, who noted Easterly and himself both played together in high school at Fleming Island High School. “To come out here and to the other football practices around the county that he has been to is a perfect way to show that the dream is possible with the work.”
Portabanco, a Fleming Island High assistant coach now, had nearly 50 football prospects from age five to age 14 on hand at the Achieve Fitness fields in Fleming Island in preparation to rebuilding his youth football team that went deep into the state playoffs last year.
“We got some returners out here, but a lot of new faces and that is good for the program,” said Portabanco. “The camp is a good start to getting the young athletes in the county into something that can be a part of their lives for a long time.”
Quarterman spoke of his journey into the NFL with the Jaguars and after a superb career as a record-setting linebacker at the University of Miami where his record of four years of starting at linebacker was established.
“It’s all about dedicating yourself to an hour a day to something you love,” said Quarterman to the athletes after the session which had a bit of rain and humidity to make things a little tougher for the campers. “Each of you (athletes) play video games and are good at them because you practice everyday. Same as football. Take some friends and go outside and practice for an hour a day; catching passes, blocking, sprinting, and you can take the steps to realizing the dream.”
For himself, Quarterman has taken a bit of advice from everyone around him at the Jaguars practice sessions to get better.
“The difference at the NFL level is attention to detail,” said Quarterman. “In college, from high school, the speed of the game is much higher and games are much faster. At the NFL, everyone is a great athlete, it’s the little things that make the difference; knowing the plays, executing your assignment, studying your position.”
Quarterman is now involved in the Jaguars OTA summer practice sessions under new head coach Doug Pederson, a former Philadelphia Eagles head coach that won a Super Bowl ring as head coach of the Eagles, but also had a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI. Pederson is also one of just four coaches to win a Super Bowl as a player and as a coach when his Eagles won Super Bowl LII over the New England Patriots in 2017.
“He is doing great things at The Bank (TIAA Field, home of Jaguars in downtown Jacksonville),” said Quarterman.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here