Quinten Rollins led the Mid-American Conference in steals during the basketball season on his way to finishing second on Miami’s all-time career list.
Now, the former Wilmington multi-sport star might be picking up some thefts in another venue. Rollins, who has used up his basketball eligibility, has joined the RedHawks football team for spring practice. First-year coach Chuck Martin started the 6-foot, 179-pound Rollins at defensive back.
“I talked to coach Martin a little bit during the basketball season, and we discussed plans about me coming out,” Rollins, a first-team running back in the now-defunct Fort Ancient Valley Conference Cardinal Division as a junior and senior at Wilmington and a second-team pick as a sophomore. “He said he was going to give me a shot to come out and play. I would start out on defense before working my way to offense.”
Martin only had to see Rollins on the basketball court one time to know he could help Miami on the football field.
“I saw him play one time and thought, ‘That’s a pretty special athlete,’” Martin told muredhawks.com. “I loved the way he played – not just his athleticism, but how he played and competed.”
Rollins, who also played defensive back with the Hurricane and was the division co-player of the year as a senior, actually flirted with the idea of giving up basketball and trying out for football during his hardwood career, he admitted. The temptation was strongest after former coach Charlie Coles retired after his sophomore season, he said.
“I decided to stick it out and then try for a fifth year of football,” he said. “I’m built for it with my speed and athleticism. I didn’t have any other opportunities to play basketball, and I didn’t pursue any overseas. I’m here, and I’m happy. This is what I choose to do.”
The transition wasn’t seamless, Rollins reported.
“I’ve had my ups and downs – some good, some bad, more bad than good,” he said, wearing the same number “2” he wore in basketball. “That’s going to happen. It’s a matter of getting my feet wet. It’s a different playing surface. I have to get used to wearing cleats again. It’s a matter of getting comfortable and adjusting to a different game.”
Martin figured Rollins would need time to adjust.
“We’ll just see,” the former Notre Dame assistant and Grand Valley State head coach said. “He’s a ridiculous athlete. His skill set is good enough to play college football. He hasn’t played since high school – four years – and he played offense. He’s playing corner.
“We just told him to come out here and get comfortable and get coached up and walk before you run. Hopefully, he can start to figure things out and then become a pretty good player for us.”
Rollins, who gained 1,340 yards and scored 14 touchdowns as a Wilmington senior, is hoping for more than that.
“I definitely want to try to make some money at this,” he said. “I want to learn as much as I can this year, get my technique down and get stronger and faster. I’m going to do everything I can to get to the next level.”