Andrews Blooming This Spring

Every year during spring football practice in Morgantown it seems like one player elevates his play, and thus elevates his status on the depth chart. With the first week of drills in the books, it looks like freshman defensive back Quinton Andrews could be that player in 2006.

Andrews came to West Virginia as a highly regarded defensive back out of Monsignor Pace High School in Miami. As one of the Top 100 prospects in the recruiting hotbed of Florida, you would have expected Andrews to stay closer to home with one of Florida's "Big Three" of Miami, Florida, and Florida State. Instead he headed north, redshirted his freshman season, and is now right in the middle of a battle for the starting free safety position in Jeff Casteel's defense.

Of course free safety hasn't been a position of worry for several years in Morgantown. But with the departure of longtime starter Jahmile Addae, the spot is now vacant. With Andrews' ability to make big plays in the secondary though, a position of concern could turn into a position of strength sometime next season. So far this spring, the youngster has shown the ability to make big plays and big hits.

"I can make some hits, but I also like to play the ball," said the confident freshman. "I have good hands and I like to tackle. I can come up and make the play."

Andrews talent has never been in question. His athletic ability was nearly unparalleled early in his high school career, and it looks as though he's made a smooth transition from athlete to football player.

"My freshman year in high school I played quarterback, then I switched to wide receiver for my sophomore year," he said. "My last two years I only played safety."

There was talk of Andrews stepping in as a contributor during last year's 11-1 run to the Sugar Bowl title, but ultimately both sides agreed it was best for him to redshirt.

"(The coaching staff) told me they wanted to save me and see what I could learn in that one year," he said." That way this spring I could come in and compete for the starting position, and after that I could be starting for four years. They also really wanted me to learn from a guy like Jahmile while he was still here."

Learning from a player of Addae's caliber and character could only have helped the development of young Quinton.

"Being around Jahmile taught me a lot," Andrews said sincerely. "He taught me how to be patient, how to read the ball, how to be a good player, and how to help out my team."

With the mentor gone, the pupil now has a chance to take his place. Andrews knows what he's capable of, and seems determined to anchor Tony Gibson's defensive backfield when the Mountaineers take the field in September.

"If I come out and play like I know I can play, and like I should play, then I should be able to win the starting job."

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