Shaq Quarterman isn’t your typical freshman. Start with the fact he’s about 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds and won a starting job at middle linebacker in the spring, a position he’s trying to hold onto during training camp. He’s also seemingly just as comfortable using a 50-cent word as he is dropping a few hot bars in a rap battle.
Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Manny Diaz has praised Quarterman heartily in recent weeks (click here for plenty of Monday thoughts from Diaz), calling him an “alpha dog” whom the other linebackers are already following.
A few minutes with Quarterman:
What did it do for you to learn the playbook in January?
“Not only did it give me confidence, it was very beneficial,” he said. “To get here at the same time the coaches were getting here, and to learn everything on the front end. Some freshman got here for Summer A and Summer B, they just got the playbook. But I was here when we were making our own playbook. … I’m very confident I’ve gotten to learn everything over the last couple months. I’m just very prepared.”
On meeting Ray Lewis at UM’s Paradise Camp:
“He’s everything that you see. He’s intense. His words … you just listen to him. For the first five minutes he was at camp, he was coaching the kids. He stepped back and talked to me about the drill they were doing. He was talking about footwork, and that’s very important. But the way he broke it down, you can understand by the way he talks, why he stayed in the league that long, why he was so great. He breaks it down and studies it to a ‘T’. He can call out things before they happen. He’s a legend.
He speaks with power. When he speaks, you will listen. … It makes you want to be better, to say the least.
Are you a Lewis-esque vocal leader?
“I don’t quite have the same talent that he has. … I do like to support my teammates whenever they’re down. This is a team sport. I’m here for them and other guys on our defense.”
What do you need to do to hold onto the starting job?
“Compete. That’s how I got the job. I approach it like I haven’t earned anything yet. I work every day as if I’m on the fourth string. I compete, and I compete and I compete all day.”
How did you become a Miami fan?
“It was kind of betrothed to me. My whole family were Florida-team fans. My uncle and a couple of my brothers are Miami fans, I have a brother who’s a UF fan. I clung to the Miami team because of the way they played. They played with style, they had fun, and no other team did it like them. At all.”
You’re the first linebacker I’ve heard to use ‘betrothed.’ How’d you do on the English ACT?
A 20. I guess it’s OK. I could have done better. I only took it once.
What was your best subject in school?
Probably science, but I loved English.
What was your favorite part of senior English?
“MacBeth was nice. I also liked “The Raven.” Edgar Allen Poe. What I liked about that was, he wrote so differently. I still can’t explain it. But I knew when I read it that I had to read it over and over again. The Raven was especially nice. I liked that one a lot.”
What do you do for entertainment?
I watch rap battles. Smack URL. Yes.
Do you rap yourself?
I can say I freestyle a little bit. A little bit. When I’m feeling it.
Is that your best talent?
Besides football? I don’t know. The guys on the team say I’m really good at freestyling, I be getting them hype, along with Chad [Thomas]. He’s the man around here.
Who else can rap?
[Sheldrick] Redwine. Who else … Quan [Muhammad] tries to rap, but he just ends up making jokes. That’s probably about it.
How’d you get your name?
My mother liked the name. It wasn’t about Shaquille O’Neal, either. I asked her that.