Quessenberry: From Walk-On To Pro
HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Have you ever been told that you’re just not quite good enough? Ever been told by anyone, or maybe even a potential employer, that you’re not needed because we have the people we like even when you feel you’re as good or better?
Let’s take the sports angle. Ever been made to feel like you didn’t belong within the collegiate athletic program of your dreams because someone who may not have your best interest intimated that the existing players are above your talent level?
That normally goes through the mind of a high school graduate who didn’t get invited to play his or her given sport at the institution of his or her choice. However, the good news is, there are ways if you feel talented enough to play at the next level and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices. One way is to walk-on to the program.
By definition, a walk-on is a student-athlete who wants to try out for a college sports/athletic team without the benefit of a scholarship or having been recruited.
That was the path taken by Texans’ rookie offensive lineman, David Quessenberry. He was a walk-on at San Jose State who eventually became Houston’s 6th round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Quessenberry was your typical undersized offensive lineman/tight end during his junior season at 6’3” 190 pounds. However, prior to his senior season in high school, David added two inches and 35 pounds – still a bit undersized to play tight end or offensive lineman at the Division I level. But, the unique quality about him is that he played multiple sports which allowed him to elevate his development.
“Back in the day, I played some basketball. But, I played Lacrosse in high school. I was a goalie and I think that comes back to having quick feet, quick reflexes, and going back, and that’s helped me out.”
So, that speaks to Quessenberry’s early footwork development but not his courage. It takes unparalleled drive, determination, and an unmatched work ethic to overcome initially not being recognized by college scouts to eventually earning a scholarship and becoming a 6th round NFL draft pick.
“I was a walk-on in college,” says Quessenberry. “It’s just something that’s a part of me, I guess. Being the oldest of three boys, being a walk-on, it’s something that burns inside me, and something I don’t plan on quitting or doing anytime soon.”
WALKING THE TALK
Quessenberry made his mark after converting from tight end to offensive lineman while at San Jose State. That wasn’t the initial plan. However, the move paid off after the career-ascending directive from his then Head Coach.
“Dick Tomey was my college coach when I first got to San Jose State.” Quessenberry then explains what he was told by Tomey. “We had a guy just like you back at Arizona and you remind me a lot of him. We want you to play tight end. But, we eventually want you to play tackle for us.”
“It was great,” Quessenberry reflects. “It turned out best for everyone, I think.”
The results are proof! Quessenberry started 37 of 49 contests at left tackle. He was an All-Western Athletic Conference first-team pick, a third-team All-American and also received Super Sleeper Team accolades.
Additionally, Quessenberry helped the Spartans gain at least 500 yards in total offense five times – including 571 vs. Texas State. He was a member of the Lombardi Award Watch List and became the first San Jose State offensive lineman to play in the Senior Bowl.
Quessenberry admits moving up in weight class to play the position was a challenge.
“It was difficult. It was definitely difficult. I was 230 pounds, you know, when I first got there as a freshman. When I walked away, I was about 295. So, it was something that didn’t happen overnight and something that took a lot of long hours in the weight room, a lot of food, and just, you had to work at it to put on the right weight.”
THE PAY OFF
The sacrifice, hard work, and long hours have paid off as he is now 6’5” 310 pounds. But not even Quessenberry could have imagined that he would be in position to get real significant playing time this early in his career. However, with the absence of veteran offensive lineman Wade Smith following knee surgery earlier this week, second year lineman, Ben Jones, gets the start at left guard. Quessenberry is his backup.
“It’s definitely something I’m excited about,” says Quessenberry. “Coming from San Jose State, that’s something I’m proud of. (It’s) not the biggest university and (it’s) not really known as much for our football as some of these other places. But we got some good guys coming out of there and I just want to show everybody what kind of talent we do have there.”
Saturday marks the first preseason home game for the Texans who will host the Miami Dolphins at Reliant Stadium. It is not certain how many snaps Quessenberry will play in his debut. Regardless, he is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m thinking this is football. This is a game that I love. This is a game I’ve been playing for a long time. I’m going to go out there – I’m going to give it my all and I’m going to play like every play is my last.”
Quessenberry’s jersey number is 77. Watch him closely. He could be a good one.
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