You see it everyday in college football. When a big-time high school athlete comes to a big-time college football program, he finds out immediately that he is no longer the big man on campus. He finds out that there are other good players as good as him. And in fact, there may be players that are better than him.
That can be a shock to the system for many athlete, but those that learn how to handle it the quickest usually find the playing field. Former Tulsa Washington star Quentin Chaney found himself in that exact position when he blew a couple of opportunities to earn playing time and started the season deep on the wide receiver depth chart.
Early in the season, sophomore Fred Strong was getting the call in place of the injured Manuel Johnson, not Chaney, who was expected to get those reps. Instead, Strong started strong and even made some big plays in the passing game for the Sooners.
However, Chaney did what all young athletes should do when they are locked in a battle for playing time — he kept working. He started to work harder, talk to the coaches more, asked the coaches questions on how he could get on the field. Eventually, he passed Strong on the depth chart and now has the spot behind sophomore star receiver Malcolm Kelly.
Chaney's perseverance paid off as he caught his first pass of the season, and with the same catch his first touchdown of the year against Missouri. Recently, Chaney sat down with OUInsider.com to talk about his new found playing time and how he plans to keep it.
JH: How hard is it to keep practicing hard and keep your dream alive when you are not getting any playing time?
QC: "It is as hard as you want it to be. If you go out there and work and work, then things will come easy to you. If you go out there and just go through the motions and not really work hard, then it is going to be a little tougher on game day.
"I am working hard at practice and during games. I can see things and I can talk to receivers as they come off the field — ask them about what coverage they are seeing and things like that. We do a lot of communication and help out each other so when it is time for somebody to step in for someone and then to make plays, we look over each other's shoulders and go do it."
JH: Did you ever give up on yourself at any point before this past Saturday?
QC: "There were a couple of days like that, especially being here for my third year. You have tough days and days where you don't want to be here. You know, I don't want to be here. I don't want to do this and I don't want to do that, but you know besides school this is your job.
"You have to go out and produce and get better and get better, so that you can help out the team. It is basically just going out there and doing it."
JH: Are you surprised that former wide receiver Lendy Holmes is having such a big impact at cornerback?
QC: "He talked about going to DB last year. It was something that I knew that he wanted to do, because he said that he felt a little more comfortable at the DB position. Every day at practice, especially since we both came in as receivers, we both go real hard against each other. We both work on our hand work, our feet work and things like that.
"He gets to work on guarding a big receiver when he goes up against me, because he is a physical corner, so he can practice that. He is just playing the way that coach wants him to play and each day we are both getting better and better and helping each other out. Then when Saturday comes, we just go out there and do it."
JH: Has it surprised you at all how quickly he has started to play well?
QC: "No, not at all because he is very athletic. People don't know, but I played against Lendy in AAU Basketball when we were in middle school and in high school. I have seen him in action and I know the things that he can do. He can move laterally, he can backpedal. He can open up and sprint, so he can do the same thing on the court.
"He can play defense, squat down and open his hips. When I realized that was him and we got to talking, I knew then when he moved to DB he was going to do well. On the defensive side of the ball, he is doing a good job and doing what coach expected him to do. He is making plays and making the defense a lot better."
JH: Who won those battles on the basketball court?
QC: "He played for Team Texas and I played for the Tulsa Hurricane. We took turns winning tournaments. We would go back and forth between the two. We would always have real good games, there was never a blowout. I never guarded him because I was always guarding the taller players."
JH: For you does success breed success? Now that you have had a little success, will you continue to have more?
QC: "I would say so, yes. Everybody would say that once you start to do well and once you start to progress, as the season goes on that you will get more confidence and the team will get more confidence in you. So will the coaches. So it is kind of a confidence builder for everybody, not just me as a receiver.
"It is Coach Sumlin and Coach Stoops, as we all build confidence as a team because that allows the team to realize that now there is one more receiver than can get out on the field to give the other receivers a little break and keep them fresh. Then they can come back and make plays and make blocks and things like that."
JH: What are your thoughts on Texas A&M?
QC: "A&M is a good team. I am not going to take anything from them. They have a real good record (8-1, 4-1), but with us we just have to take it day by day. We have had a good day at practice each day this week and we need to finish the week with good practices. On Thursday, we will polish things up and then when Friday rolls around we lock in and get focused and get ready for Saturday."
Chaney making the most of his chance
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