Who is Q?

From Meredith to Morton, Staubach to White there has been a successor to the exiting general of America's Team. Someone to stand behind the Dallas line and lead the offense to their destiny.

Troy Aikman, the last in a long line of greats that have graced the Dallas backfield retired in the off-season of 2001. Now stands Quincy Carter, the next player to try and fill the legendary shoes of the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. But who is Quincy Carter?

Carter's rise to prominence as an athlete started at Dekalb High School in Decatur Georgia. During his stint as a quarterback in school he passed for a total of 4450 yard with 37 touchdowns. But Quincy isn't a one-dimensional player. He also ran for 1489 yards and 32 touchdowns, showing the type of ability that would interest professional teams.

To his credit he was named to many prestigious schoolboy lists of top athletes in both Georgia and the United States, including Georgia Player of the Year by USA Today, among others. Carter signed a letter of intent to play football for Georgia Tech, but was also drafted by the Chicago Cubs. He played two years with that organization. One with the rookie league and the second with the single-A team at Rockford, Illinois.

Quincy enrolled at the University of Georgia in the spring of 1998 but did not attend any off-season football practices, opting to stay with the Cubs in Rockford.

Perhaps a .211 batting average convinced Quincy that his future was in football and not baseball. In any event he joined the Georgia Bulldogs and beat out three other quarterbacks to be the first true freshman starter since Johnny Rauch in 1945.

Carter's freshman year as the starter for Georgia showed his true talent for the game. He broke many of the records set by Eric Zeier including passes thrown and completions. He won SEC Offensive Player of the Week as well as ESPN's Player of the game against LSU.

He capped off a brilliant season with a comeback against Virginia Tech that led 21-0 at one point in the Peach Bowl.

Quincy's second season with Georgia found him continuing his record setting pace. At one point during the season he had 170 consecutive passes without an interception, which ranked third in the SEC. His 5,197 passing yards in his first two seasons ranked ahead of such QB's as Eric Zeier, Payton Manning, Tim Couch, Danny Wuerffel, Jake Plummer, John Elway, Dan Marino, and Doug Flutie.

A changing offensive scheme along with injuries dampened Carter's career with the Bulldogs the next season. His completion percentage plummeted to 49.7 percent as he threw more interceptions (10) than TD's (6). After a lackluster junior season he opted for the NFL. Many saw this as a huge mistake.

Some draft analysts felt he needed one more season to mature before entering the pros. Others that projected him as a top choice just a year and a half earlier were now suggesting he was no more than a third round pick. Even though these same prognosticators felt he was head and shoulders above Michael Vick, the eventual #1 over-all pick in 2001.

"Football is my job and that's the way I approach it. That's all part of being a quarterback. Those are the same things Troy, Roger, Don Meredith, and Danny White did to be successful," said Carter.
Carter's positives as expressed by one draft pundit included: fluid in his drops and motion, impressive quickness, can get out of trouble with his feet and has touch on both short and deep passes. Enough positives for the Dallas Cowboys to select him in the second round of the 2001 collegiate draft.

Quincy's rookie year was marked by upheaval for both the team and the player. He was named the starter in training camp over other quarterbacks with more but limited experience after Jerry Jones fired Tony Banks.

Quincy was baptized-under-fire in his first NFL appearance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A terrible offensive production for both teams Carter's debut ended in a loss. The national press as well as fans voiced their skepticism at starting Carter so early in his career.

He was injured early against the Raiders and sat out until December. During that time he studied with quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and learned some of the nuances of the professional game.

Quincy returned to face the Washington Redskins on December 2nd. The game was a battle of running backs and Quincy wasn't asked to win so much as not lose it. A 64-yard completion to Rocket Ismail against a snoozing Champ Bailey aided in sealing the win and continuing the streak against the Daniel Snyder owned Washingtonians.

Perhaps the hallmark of Carter's short career with the Cowboys was on December 30th against the San Francisco 49ers. His 15 for 25 and 241-yard day kept the play-off team from California on their heels and out of the victors circle. Quincy's quarterback rating was 118.9, which won him Player of the Week in the NFC.

The night and day difference between the pre-injury and post injury Quincy has given Dallas fans hope. His off-season work ethic, one in which even Jerry Jones has expressed admiration, has sent a signal to the players, coaches and fans that he wishes to be the next great Dallas quarterback.

"Football is my job and that's the way I approach it." Carter said. "That's all part of being a quarterback. Those are the same things Troy, Roger, Don Meredith, and Danny White did to be successful," Carter continued. "They all worked hard all of the time and they were all winners. I want to be successful, so I try to pattern myself after them."

A very mature statement for a player just starting his second campaign as the leader of the team. Be it baseball or the relationship he has with his mother who was his role model, taking charge and working hard is who Quincy Carter really is.

And if his efforts pay off like his early college career, it should give Dallas fans something to cheer about.

And just maybe fill some big shoes left by a few great players and some Hall-of-Famers.

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