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University of Notre Dame
When you consider all the great quarterbacks who played at Notre Dame – from Johnny Lujack to Joe Theismann to Joe Montana – it is makes the following statement all the more impressive: Brady Quinn is the most prolific passer in school history.
The Dublin, O., native broke 36 school records in his four seasons as the Fighting Irish quarterback. He finished his career with 655 completions for 8,484 yards and 60 touchdowns. He also set a school record with 32 touchdown passes in the 2005 season, including six in one game against Brigham Young.
In the 2006 season, Quinn led two of the biggest comebacks in Notre Dame history, rallying the team to wins over Michigan State and UCLA, victories that put the Fighting Irish (10-3) in a BCS bowl game for the second consecutive year.
Quinn is the fifth Notre Dame player to win the Maxwell Award as College Player of the Year. The others were defensive end Ross Browner (1977), linebacker Jim Lynch (1966), halfback John Lattner (1952-53) and end Leon Hart (1949).
Quinn attended his first Notre Dame game as a middle school student when he rode to South Bend with a friend whose brother was enrolled there. They slept on the floor of his dormitory room, then went to the game the next day and Quinn never forgot that experience.
Quinn had a brilliant career at Coffman (O.) High School and was recruited by hundreds of major colleges, including Ohio State and Michigan, but he chose to attend Notre Dame.
“I was kind of living out that childhood dream,” Quinn told Pat Forde of ESPN.com. “Once I got on campus, I couldn’t imagine myself anyplace else.”
Quinn was pressed into service as a freshman in 2003 when Carlyle Holiday was injured in the fourth game. It was a difficult learning curve as the Fighting Irish went 5-7 that season and 6-6 the next. But the following year, Charlie Weis took over as the head coach and things turned around.
Weis was the offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots when they won their three Super Bowls and he helped develop Tom Brady from a sixth round draft pick into a future Hall of Famer. Weis was the ideal coach for Quinn. He took the young quarterback’s physical skills and polished them into an All-American gloss.
“He had already been battle-tested for two years by the time I got him,” Weis told Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com. “I already had a good product to work with. Throw on top of that the fact the kid is smart, he’s passionate and wants to be great. I already had something special to work with. He is some kind of player. He’s special.”
Quinn said Weis’ influence on his game was “more psychological than mechanical.”
“When he first got here, we were working on some mechanical things and technique,” Quinn said, “but pretty much from the first season on, it’s been a lot about understanding defensive schemes and our offense and how you break down different teams and just different situational thinking. It’s been a lot of mental things that he’s played a big part in as far as my development.
“Coach Weis is someone who is going to push you to your limits and he’s going to push you past where you think you can go to make sure you’re getting better and to get you to reach that next level.”
Quinn defines the term “student-athlete.” He will graduate in three and one half years with a double major in political science and finance. He also has managed to keep his life in perspective despite playing the most glamorous position at one of the nation’s most celebrated universities.
“It’s hard to really even think about yourself (as a celebrity) or even to be labeled as a role model,” Quinn said. “I’m just a ‘slappy’ as Coach Weis would say. I’m just a college student at Notre Dame and playing football and trying to have fun with it.
“I’d like to be remembered as the quarterback who helped Notre Dame go from a time when we weren’t doing so well and helped turn the program around.”