Undrafted Rookie Shaking Up Backfield Battle

As we've been telling you in the subscribers forum, one of the early surprises of camp is Division II running back Quinn Porter. The former Stillman College cheerleading stuntman says he's "ready to show the world who Quinn Porter is."

Five years ago, Quinn Porter was a stuntman on the Stillman College cheerleading squad.

Now, he's drawing unsolicited praise from offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.

Asked a generic question about the depth at running back, Philbin bypassed Kregg Lumpkin and sixth-round pick James Starks and lavished praise on the undrafted rookie from Division II.

"I really like this young kid we got, Quinn Porter," Philbin said. "I like him. He's tough. He steps up in there. His helmet's fallen off a couple times and he just picks it up and goes back and buckles it up and goes again. I really like what we've seen."

Frequent readers of the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club Forum will know that Porter has made several eye-catching plays during the first few days of training camp. His cutback ability and acceleration skills are probably better than any of the Packers' other runners. He deftly juked Desmond Bishop after catching a screen on Monday afternoon and produced a couple of long runs during the night practice after Philbin's unprompted praise.

"I'm living up to expectations," Porter said. "I'm trying to distinguish myself from the rest of the group. If it calls for a cut to the left or cut to the right or spinning on somebody, I'm using my agility. I've been playing running back all my life. I'm just doing what I've got to do to stay here."

Porter wasn't academically eligible to play as a freshman at Stillman so he took the unusual route of joining the cheerleading squad. Hey, he was asked by two pretty girls and earned a little scholarship money. And he swears it did nothing to ruin his dreams of playing in the NFL.

"I watched from the sideline. They saw my competitiveness," Porter said. "I just knew I could match up against whoever was in front of me at the time. I've been around the best all my life. I've been to plenty of USC camps, Nike camps, been around the Jerry Rices, Keyshawn Johnsons. Learning from them and putting everything I've learned to what has become now."

The next fall, Porter was on the football team, as a buried-on-the-depth chart receiver. When the starting running back went down, Porter lobbied for a position change. The coach granted it, and Porter was so good at practice that he became the immediate starter.

"At Stillman, I'd go 110 percent at practice. In the games, I'd go 150 percent," Porter said. "I feel like you play the way you train, so I train hard. When the game comes, I'm going to show the world who Quinn Porter is."

Porter rushed for 1,247 yards as a senior and closed his career with 2,788 rushing yards (5.5 per attempt) and 24 touchdowns along with 68 receptions (13.0 yards per catch) and 12 more scores.

Not surprisingly given where he played, Porter wasn't drafted. Green Bay was the first team to call after the draft, and he pounced on the offer.

"I fit perfect right here," he said.

With only Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson assured roster spots — and with Starks out again with a hamstring injury — there's an open roster spot at running back. Special teams will be a determining factor. Porter returned two kickoffs for touchdowns as a senior and has been working as a punt returner.

Coincidentally, the Packers' assistant special teams coach is Chad Morton, who returned four kicks for touchdowns during his pro career. Morton played at USC, which is where Porter — a Los Angeles native — hoped to play.

"It's funny, because after I got here, I'm like, ‘Chad Morton? I know this guy!'" Porter said. "Back when I was in like eighth grade and I was playing football. I was the MVP of my little peewee team. He sent me a big poster of himself. He don't remember that but I do. It's just a coincidence that I'm here and playing for his special teams. He sent me a picture of him and (USC coach) John Robinson. He signed it, ‘Congratulations Quinn, just keep doing what you've got to do.' It's still in my room hanging up. It's amazing. God blessed me to be here."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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