Quinn: Mature Beyond His Years

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Sometimes it's easy to forget that football is just a game during the preseason excitement that surrounds training camps across the country. But Richard Quinn understands that fact quite well, and plans to graduate early from North Carolina to provide for his family.

Quinn, who red-shirted in 2006 following his freshman season, has two years of eligibility remaining to play Division I football for the Tar Heels. So why would a tight end that started eight games last fall and is currently running with the first unit decide to give up that final opportunity to play football?

"It's because I have a daughter now," said Quinn, who indicated that his little girl is just three weeks old. "I want to do the responsible thing as far as graduating and being able to take care of and provide for her. I look at it as a good thing, because I'm going to try to get my degree this December. I just want to take care of my responsibilities… She's definitely a blessing."

Quinn is incredibly well-spoken, and he talks with confidence of his plans after earning his degree from UNC.

"Being around sports is what I want to do," Quinn said. "That's my love. I just want to make a career out of that, whether it's playing professionally or coming back and working in the athletic department… Something like what [Associate Athletic Director for Football Administration] Corey Holliday is doing, or [Director of Football Student-Athlete Development] Andre Williams, something along their paths of work. I've been going to them for guidance and getting a lot of help from them, so they've been a big help to me."

But don't think for a minute that the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder is looking past his duties on the football field this fall – he's just as hyped up as any of his teammates.

"We've been working hard out here in the heat," said Quinn, who had four receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown in 2007. "All the work that we did in the summer has paid off. Our running backs are looking good, the whole offensive line and the entire defense have been looking great. We're competing every day, just trying to get better and hopefully that will transition to our first game of the season."

Quinn indicated his position group works closely with the offensive line, even spending time together in the film room every day after practice to work on blocking techniques and reviewing tape. Having almost everyone back from last fall on both units has built chemistry between the players and has cut down on the learning process involved with getting to know new teammates' tendencies.

"It's huge – just the connection," Quinn said. "For instance, when Garrett [Reynolds] and I are on the line together, we don't really even have to talk much anymore. We just kind of give each other a look and it's like we know what to do. We don't even have to call anything out on the line."

The Maple Heights, Ohio product is one of the few fourth-year players on Butch Davis' second team in Chapel Hill, and he has increased his effort to provide leadership for the younger players in the locker room.

"I haven't really been the vocal type – I've always led by example," Quinn said. "As training camp has been going in, I've been trying to work on that. Just talking to everybody and trying to get them riled up in practice and in the locker room. I'm doing the best I can, because I've always been a shy person, but I'm just trying to go out there and let everyone feed off my vibes."

Quinn's goals don't consist of statistics and records; rather, the tight end is more concerned with playing up to his potential and helping this North Carolina team get to the ACC Championship game, and possibly even further. Which begs the question – is there any reason behind the aura of confidence exuding from the Kenan Football Center's walls?

"We're just looking good," Quinn said, smiling. "We look good right now. We're feeling good, we've got new practice clothes, we just look like a whole new team out there. We're practicing well. Coach Davis sees it – we're going hard every day. I don't know how to describe it, but we're just a whole new team right now."

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