Dunbar Ready to see the Field

Quinton Dunbar drew rave reviews from the practice field last fall. Lining up mostly for the scout team as he took a redshirt in 2010, veteran and rookie players all praised the impact Dunbar made as the team prepared for each game. There were plenty of highlight reel catches, as the Florida defense couldn't guard the scout team receiver. However, he never saw the field on Saturdays.

And he understands why.

Dunbar blames immaturity. It certainly wasn't talent.

"Physically, I was probably ready, but mentally, I wasn't probably ready," Quinton Dunbar said. "I was immature. Some days, I'd come out and want to practice, but some days, I wouldn't. Some days I wouldn't (mentally) show up."

It's the battle of inconsistency that most young players struggle with after coming to a college campus. They cruised through high school practices without much opposition, even at a high level program like the one Dunbar went to at Booker T. Washington High School.

The inconsistencies on the practice field caused the redshirt to happen. Despite the team lacking a downfield receiving threat that Dunbar is expected to bring this fall, he stood on the sidelines and watched the Gators go through one of the worst seasons in reason memory.

"The redshirt hurt me," Dunbar said. "I felt like I could've helped the team last year. I had to figure out fast that I had to mature. Just being by myself made me force myself to mature. This is the game that I love. I never really had to sit out. I played as a freshman in high school even."

When it was understood that he would redshirt, the inconsistency got worse. It wasn't from a lack of skill, either. Dunbar fought what all freshmen that redshirt deal with. He had to convince himself to bring full effort to practice every day while knowing no matter how well he did, he wouldn't be on the field for Florida that Saturday.

The head coach soon noticed. Urban Meyer called Dunbar up to his office after a practice at the midway point of the season.

"He talked to me and said that I was physically blessed but I had to work hard and mature," Dunbar said. "He said if I did those things, the sky was the limit for me. He preached that to me every day.

"He saw that I was getting down. I wasn't myself anymore—I was just down."

Meyer wasn't the only one to try to keep Dunbar optimistic.

"Older players would come up to me and say I had to get better at my work ethic and be consistently," Dunbar said. "It doesn't matter how many plays you make, if you're not consistent or bring the same attitude out to play every day, you're not going to be successful anywhere."

This spring was different. Whether Meyer returned as the head coach or when Will Muschamp was hired, the redshirt freshman was set on putting his mark on the depth chart. It didn't take long for that to happen.

Just a few practices into the spring, Muschamp was already naming Dunbar as one of the more explosive playmakers in the program. The coach of the program didn't matter as much as Dunbar having an opportunity.

"I stayed level headed, worked hard every day, made plays and made them consistently," Dunbar said.

Dunbar didn't just become a more consistent threat. He also grew up in the offseason. Buying into the team concept is tough for most freshmen that feel like they should be on the field, but Dunbar realized in the offseason after he redshirted that it was his only chance to make an impact.

Muschamp wasn't around Dunbar in the fall, but it didn't take long for him to realize that the redshirt freshman was humbled by sitting out the 2010 season.

The 2011 version of Dunbar is one who is begging to help the team however possible. Muschamp challenged him to get involved in special teams, and it didn't take long for the receiver to make that happen.

"To add your value to this football team, you need to be on special teams," Muschamp said. "We have scout teams with our special teams and Quinton is the first one who jumps in there. That to me is showing tremendous strides in commitment to our football team.

"He wants to be on kickoff return team, so every time we do that, he's in there running down the field. I think that shows the strides he has made as a maturity standpoint."

That's why Dunbar will be a go-to receiver on the team this fall. He is proving to be more unselfish, and his role has increased because of it.

"Most guys don't want to do that," Muschamp said about Dunbar's special teams involvement. "They think they're too good to do that, but not him."

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