The rock and the sling

When Quincy Awa-Dubose walked into Coach Mendenhall's office during his official visit last week, he noticed something sitting on a table. His inquiry of why a football coach would have such a strange object sitting in his office led to a greater understand of why he was there.

A few years ago, Quincy Awa-Dubose wasn't even sure he wanted to play football. In fact, it wasn't until his father started coaching at Moorpark College in Southern California that he decided to give it a shot.

"I greyshirted my freshman year and wasn't sure if I was going to even play football," said Awa-Dubose. "I was just working and going to school at the time. Then my father started coaching up at Moorpark, so I decided to go up and play J.C. ball up at Moorpark."

Awa-Dubose has experience playing various positions along the offensive line.

"Right now I'm 6'2", 315 pounds," said Awa-Dubose. "My freshman year of high school I played tackle. Back then I was one of the biggest ones out there. As I got older and things progressed I moved down to the guard position and then I moved to the center position because we didn't have a center.

"At Moorpark we needed a center, so that's what I played. I like playing center and being in the middle and leading the o-line. I like taking on guards and nose guards one-on-one. I like the aspect of center and pass blocking in the middle. Sometimes I don't have to block anyone so I can go look for someone to hit, whether it's a guard or a tackle coming off the side. I just try and pick up guys when I can and helping my o-linemen. I know they need some help at the center position, and the [BYU] coaches told me there's going to be some tough competition, so I'm ready for that."

Awa-Dubose was first contacted by BYU when he received a call from Coach Howell, who expressed interest by letting him know the coaches wanted to fly him out. Thinking Howell was a coach from a Division II college, Awa-Dubose was shocked to learn he was speaking to a BYU coach. It wasn't long before he was flying out to BYU for an official visit.

"My official visit to BYU was great, just great," said Awa-Dubose. "Right when I got off the airplane, I walked down and saw three of the BYU coaches standing there waiting for me with big ol' smiles on their faces. I got to meet with all the coaches and sit down with them one-on-one. I got to know all the coaches very well and it was great."

But how did BYU discover this hidden gem from Moorpark College? One needs to look no further than new BYU assistant coach Garret Tujague for the answer.

"Kind of how it happened was Coach Tujague coached at a J.C. that Moorpark played against earlier this season called College of the Canyons, " said Awa-Dubose. "He had film of the game and on me, so when he took the job at BYU he either took that film with him or they needed a center and he remembered. I'm not sure exactly, but he gave me a call one day …

"… I think he's the one that sort of discovered me or noticed me, but it really is a credit to all the coaches out there for the job they did of evaluating me. But if I had to guess, I would give credit to Coach Tujague for seeing me on film and in the game to take notice. That got the ball rolling."

The fact that an opposing coached noticed the abilities of a specific player on the opposite team says a few things here. It not only speaks well of Coach Tujague and his ability to see with a keen eye the abilities of those he's facing, but it's also a great compliment to Awa-Dubose's abilities as a player.

"He really liked the way that I block in space when we ran the screen, and how quick my feet are," Awa-Dubose said. "I guess my quick feet and speed is what caught him. Hopefully my feet are as quick as he saw and that the VCR didn't just happen to speed up at the right time. Hopefully he wasn't watching me while he was fast-forwarding, thinking, ‘Wow, this guy's fast' or something."

Laughing after making that last comment, Awa-Dubose continued.

"I guess he really liked how I played and directed the offensive line and how physical I played against other teams and against his guys. I try to play powerful and hopefully I can continue to get stronger and stronger every day while keeping those quick feet."

As one drives into a particular area of BYU's campus, there is a sign with the slogan "The World is Our Campus," making BYU the perfect fit for someone like Quincy Awa-Dubose who has the world all but covered in his genealogy and last name.

"Yeah man, Awa is the last name of my mother who is Japanese, Hawaiian, Portuguese and German," he said with a laugh. "The Dubose side of my name comes from my dad who is African American and French, so I've got just about everyone covered."

While on campus with his parents by his side, Awa-Dubose met with Coach Mendenhall in his office. The experience was more than he ever expected.

"Oh, he brought me into his office right before dinner that night," said Awa-Dubose." He sat me and my parents down. He had a big smile on his face when we walked into the room. The first thing he talked about was his faith. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was a sling and a rock like from the story of David and Goliath from the Old Testament sitting there. He had it sitting on a table, so I asked him if that is a sling and a rock from David and Goliath. Soon a big smile came across his face.

"He started going into detail and gave a 20-minute speech about David and Goliath and why he had a sling and a rock in his office. He told me that the symbolism of the sling and rock was that you don't have to be the biggest one on the field to win. You just have to have the biggest heart and the biggest will to beat those much bigger than you on the field of battle."

Members of the Catholic faith, Awa-Dubose and his parents were impressed with the unique quality of spiritual insight Coach Mendenhall had as a football coach.

"He is just a great man and very spiritual," Awa-Dubose said. "My mother is Catholic and Coach Mendenhall is heavy Mormon. Both of the religions are Christian and tie in together in a lot of ways, so we just had a great time talking to him about spiritual things.

"My mother really enjoyed talking to him. My father isn't really a man of many words, but my mother was talking the whole time and loved it. They love the standards, and they love the standards when it comes to grades."

After hearing the speech from Coach Mendenhall, Awa-Dubose then received a surprise from BYU's head coach that changed the course of his life.

"I wasn't expecting anything when I was told that Coach Mendenhall wanted to speak with me," said Awa-Dubose. "I had some of the players ask me if they were going to sign me or whatever and I didn't really know and wasn't sure. I just went to his office because I was asked to come up.

"I was sitting there with my parents listening to him speak. That's when he gave me an envelope. Inside was a piece of paper and he had me read it. I realized then that it was a scholarship offer. I was really excited and he was just kind of staring at me the whole time."

Awa-Dubose and his parents left Coach Mendenhall's office happy and excited about what just took place. What had just occurred completely took him by surprise.

"It really has changed my life," Awa-Dubose said. "I mean, I was just thinking that after I was done playing I would just go back to Hawaii and get a job and just live on a beach somewhere. I wasn't expecting to go anywhere and didn't even think coaches looked at players coming out of Moorpark.

"Maybe that will change now, but, yeah, I had no idea how a single visit to BYU would change the course of my life. It's crazy to think that I'll be playing football for BYU next year, getting an outstanding education and playing for one of the best football programs in the country. It's a big shock to me and just amazing. I love it!"

The following day, Awa-Dubose returned home to Southern California with his family.

"Later that night I called [Mendenhall] and committed to him and BYU," Awa-Dubose said. "My parents were really excited. My mom was really excited and called all my family and cousins back in Hawaii. They know I'm not coming back to Hawaii for the summer, but that's okay. She was telling everyone on Facebook and everything, so that's good. They're really excited and I just don't want to let my parents down. I want to make them proud."

After this semester, Awa-Dubose wants to get out to Provo as soon as he possibly can to work out as much as he can with the team over the summer.

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