Up Close: Quinton Person

<I>IC</I> recruiting writer Andy Britt is touring the countryside to visit each and every UNC football commitment. Look for his unique two-part profiles all season long. He starts it off today with North Pitt star Quinton Person.

BETHEL -- The anniversary of "9/11" is just a couple of weeks away, but the date that North Carolina's latest football commitment Quinton Person will never forget is Sept. 16, 1999.

Winding your way down U.S. 64 East near the Edgecombe-Pitt county line, you have to look hard to see remnants of that day Hurricane Floyd flooded eastern North Carolina. Along with his mother, father and sister, Person's life was turned upside down when they were forced to move into a relocation center.

There, he and his family waited and waited for Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to become available. At the time, Person was a freshman playing varsity at North Pitt High School.

Another two and half years passed before the Persons could finally move into their new home less than two months ago.

"When it first happened, it was something unbelievable," Person said. "It felt good to get our own place."

He chooses to downplay the struggle that he endured. He has also clearly grown from the experience and used the mental strength that he developed to his advantage.

"As a football player, you have to rise to the challenge, and I'm all about challenges," Person said.

North Pitt won their opening game Friday against Washington, 20-13, behind 202 rushing yards from Person. He was a one-man wrecking crew, scoring rushing touchdowns from 28, 46 and 64 yards out.

Person played six different positions in that game, getting time at quarterback, running back, as well as at defensive back, kick returner and punt returner.

"We went into the season thinking he was going to be under center period," said North Pitt head coach Ken Whitehurst. "But we had a very difficult time replacing him at the running back position.

"When they list him as an ‘athlete,' well he's an athlete."

The sixth position he played has no real name. Due to problems the Panthers' have experienced at deep snapper; Person, who is the deep back in punt formation, actually had to receive the snap and pitch it back to the punter.

"Normally, it takes about 2.5 seconds opposed to 2.8 with the extra toss," Whitehurst said, "but that's better than seeing the ball sail over the punter's head on every third try."

In the secondary, he showed off his great closing speed and hitting ability.

"He's a do it all kind of kid," Whitehurst said.

Virginia coach Al Groh told Person that he would almost certainly see time as a wide receiver during his freshman year. Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe told Person that he would "be" current Deacs' running back Fred Staton if he were to matriculate to Winston-Salem.

"He's a change of direction kind of kid," Whitehurst said. "He's got exceptional quickness; and yeah, he's a sub-4.5 guy, but he has exceptional vision and ball skills. He can certainly run with the football and catch the football."

The Cavaliers ran a close second in the recruiting battle for Person, but in the end, the fact that he is a lifelong Carolina fan and could remain in state, helped tilt him to the Tar Heels.

Person also keeps in close contact with his former teammate and UNC junior linebacker Clay Roberson, who spurned an offer from nearby East Carolina to play for the Tar Heels. The fact that Roberson has yet to see much playing time was something that Pirates' coach Steve Logan used in his attempt to sway Person's decision.

According to Whitehurst, Logan told Person early in the recruiting process, that if he visited any other schools, then ECU would pull its offer.

Simply put, Whitehurst (UNC '87) does not care much for Logan's intimidation tactics and his notorious icy demeanor.

"He's terrible," Whitehurst said.

On Aug. 6, Person made it official. He was coming to North Carolina.

Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow …

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