Sept. 9, 2010
By Jon Cooper
Quentin Sims isn’t the kind of guy to seek attention.
He just wants to make plays.
The third quarter of last Saturday’s season-opener against South Carolina State was a best-case scenario for him. He made two important plays, both contributing to touchdowns that helped Georgia Tech put away the stubborn Bulldogs, yet neither drew much notice.
The redshirt sophomore wide receiver from Cincinnati, Ohio, who starred at Colerain High School as a quarterback, performed his heroics without gaining a yard or catching a pass.
The one ball he did catch didn’t come from anyone wearing a Georgia Tech jersey — it was a muffed punt that he grabbed out of the air and, thus, the ensuing 21 yards he gained on the way to the endzone were negated.
“It was being in the right place at the right time,” said Sims, who admitted that he knew the rule about not being allowed to advance the muff, but instinctively took off toward the end zone. “I was running down trying to go tackle him and I saw him drop it. I had a good angle and the ball took a good bounce into my hands.”
The other touchdown wasn’t as much a result of him being in the right place as making sure that the opposing DB didn’t get to it. That was on A-Back Roddy Jones’ 15-yard scamper that extended the bulge to 34-3. On that play, Sims took the over-matched S.C. State corner and nearly drove him into the student section. It was a play that was instinctive.
“Blocking is just as important as catching,” said the 6-3, 197-pounder. “We run the ball most of the time and if we’re not blocking well we can’t run well. We can’t pass well if we can’t run well. It all starts with blocking.”
Sims’ knowledge of blocking begins with his father, Fred, a running back at Oklahoma during the ’80s, when the Sooners ran the Wishbone. Fred taught him about the importance of locking up his man.
“He was a big influence. He ran the triple option and was a running back and he was always able to give me pointers, little things to do as I was growing up,” said Sims, who got practice perfecting his blocking growing up against younger brother, Damon, who currently is a linebacker at Indiana. “It seems almost natural to me since at a young age I was learning these things.”
He learned well from his dad, who will be rooting for his son and the Jackets this weekend when they head into Big 12 country to take on Kansas. He also learned that the blocking on the Jones TD didn’t go unnoticed by the Tech coaching staff.
“Coach gave me props on that,” he said and smiled. “That was a pretty good block, so I helped with the touchdown on that.”
Getting props from coaches is neither unusual nor accidental. Like on the muffed punt recovery, it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and, similar to the TD, it’s working harder to get the job done.
“He came in last year for us on the punt team as a back-up. He had to go in a game and, man, he played really well, made some plays while he was in there,” recalled defensive secondary coach Charles Kelly. “He’s a guy you can always count on to do his job and do it as hard as he can do it. That’s what you want on special teams. He’s done a good bit of that for us.”
Kelly has noticed progress in Sims’ game from his first season when he played in 12 games, gaining 19 yards on two rushes, while making seven tackles, four of those solo, including two in last year’s ACC Championship Game against Clemson.
“He’s playing physical, he’s playing more confident. The more confident you are the faster you can play. He’s doing that,” said Kelly. “He’s the first one in the meetings, he’s always wanting to learn and he will do whatever you ask him to do. You can definitely see an improvement over last year. Anybody that works as hard as he does will have a chance to improve.”
Sims also has noticed a difference for the better.
“I think I’ve grown in my overall game,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot bigger. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot faster, my route running has gotten a lot better. Just mentally, being more physical — it’s been a big change for me.”
He’s looking forward to a big change in his receiving numbers, as Tech spreads the ball around to its receivers.
“It’s going to come to me and when it comes I’m going to do my best to take advantage of that opportunity.”
He’s not waiting idly, however.
“He takes pride in everything he does,” said Kelly. “Usually you find guys like that, they take pride in being a team guy, then everything they do is for the team and they pour everything they’ve got into it.”
Once he’s taken care of business on the field, he’ll take aim at some unfinished business off the field, specifically that troublesome muff rule.
“It was in my mind all weekend. I thought I had my first [touchdown],” he said, then added with a laugh, “I definitely hate that rule now.”