NC Central's Quinn Billerman makes bid for QB job
08/18/2014 6:45 PM
08/19/2014 6:09 AM
If anyone in N.C. Central’s locker room fits the bill of a traditional quarterback, it’s No. 8.
Quinn Billerman doesn’t just have the experience and measurables of a Division I quarterback, though. Even his initials label him a QB.
The prolific passer’s ability to see plays before they develop may explain why he saw himself as a Division I talent back in high school.
“I’ve always thought I was a Division I talent, ever since I was in the 10th grade,” said Billerman, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound Raleigh native.
Billerman was named starting quarterback of the Ravenscroft Ravens his sophomore year of high school, eventually becoming the school’s all-time leading passer with 6,152 yards and 62 touchdowns and earning all-state honors his senior year.
But he wasn’t seen by recruiters as a Division I player until after his sophomore season at New Mexico Military Institute, where he set single-season records with 2,962 passing yards and 34 passing touchdowns.
Though he connected with his receivers on more than half of his 335 attempts at NMMI, a coaching connection might be the reason his Division I route stopped in Durham.
Savannah State offered Billerman a scholarship to play there before first-year head coach Jerry Mack and the Eagles swooped into the preseason signing battle.
“My head coach at NMMI called me and was like, ‘What do you know about North Carolina Central?’ ” said Billerman, who knew plenty, growing up just 20 minutes away from that area.
“And he was like, ‘Well, my friend’s gonna get the job there and he wants you to come along with him.’ So I talked to coach Mack once he got the job and the rest is history, I guess.”
Mack said his quarterback pitch to Billerman was an opportunity to potentially throw the ball at the same caliber he did at NMMI and Ravenscroft.
“He was a very productive quarterback in both settings,” Mack said. “And I wanted to kinda have the same style of offense that they’d done his entire career. So, basically, he’s gonna be in a situation that he’s been in probably since he was about 16 years old.”
Now that he’s gotten the opportunity he’s longed for, the junior-college transfer who was under-recruited out of high school feels he’s a bit overhyped. Without having recorded a single statistic for the N.C. Central Eagles, Billerman has already been named one of the top first-year players in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference as Sporting News’ MEAC Newcomer of the Year.
“It was a tremendous honor,” Billerman said. “But I really don’t feel like I deserve it. It’s a preseason award. I haven’t played a single down here.”
He does feel like he deserves the starting job, though. In his position battle against redshirt sophomore Malcolm Bell, Billerman feels his advantage lies in knowing how this offense can be run, which can culminate in wins for a program that has gone 2-9, 6-5 and 5-7 since moving up to Division I in 2011.
The decision on a starting quarterback could be announced as early as Tuesday.
Billerman’s goals fall in line with Mack’s, who has expectations to be successful by leading his team to a winning season in his first head-coaching job. To do so and compete for a conference championship, Billerman said, the Eagles need to be explosive offensively.
“I think we were dead last last year in offense,” he said. “That’s not gonna happen this year.”
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