Quindell Johnson; a leader on the Tigers’ defense “soaking it all in” as a senior

Going into his last season with the University of Memphis Tigers, there was a lot of talk around defensive back Quindell Johnson. Prior to the season he was being looked at as an NFL prospect, and one of the top defensive backs in the NCAA. To say the least, he’s done a good job of living up to the hype, and staying humble at the same time.

So far into the 2022 season, Johnson has made 38 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 pass breakups and one forced fumble. With seven games left on the year, along with any playoff games to be played, Memphis’ Quindell Johnson has a good opportunity to prove himself to scouts at the next level, and make his dream of playing in the NFL a reality.

Johnson’s play on the field is what has helped him make it to where he is today, being looked at as an NFL Draft prospect, and the average football fan could mistake that as the only reason why he is an NFL Draft prospect, but a lot of it has to do with who he is off of the football field. He is smart in the class room just recently graduating in business management at the University of Memphis and pursuing his masters in sports commerce right now. But what really catches the eyes of scouts at the next level, as well as people at the next level in general would be his leadership. He has been improving his leadership skills ever since he joined the Tigers squad in 2018 when he was a freshman, mainly on scout team, on a team with key players like Brady White, Darrell Henderson, Patrick Taylor, Antonio Gibson, Tony Pollard, Kenneth Gainwell, Calvin Austin, J.J Russell, Chris Claybrooks, Jacobi Francis, and more, who either play in the NFL or have found themselves in good football positions following their time playing at Memphis. Talking about his early days at Memphis, Quindell told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “coming in as a freshman I had the mindset that I would make a big impact right away, but when I came in I realized it was a bigger atmosphere, guys were way bigger than me, faster and stronger, so I had to really sit back and look at myself, look at what I could do compared to anyone else, nothing wrong with that, I just had to make sure I was ready, and prepared before I take that next step, so coming here was a journey.” and explained, “my freshman year, I didn’t play too much, did a lot of scout team, but going up against guys like Tony Pollard, Antonio Gibson, Patrick Taylor, and even Brady White when he was here, those guys, while I was trying to perfect myself, set up a good stepping stone for me because it gave me an opportunity to perfect my craft, the coaches seen it and by the spring of my redshirt freshman year we got a new defensive coordinator so that changed my mindset even more, because it gave me an opportunity to prove myself and show what I can do to new eyes.”

As a redshirt freshman in 2019, playing in 14 games, Johnson made 58 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 6 pass deflections. He made an impact early on in his first opportunity to do so, and only did more of the same as his time extended at Memphis. In 2020 he made 81 tackles, and as a junior last season in 2021 he broke the 100 tackle marker with 104 tackles, all adding up to 243 tackles, 28 pass deflections, 10 tackles for loss, 10 takeaways and one sack leading up to this season.

The stats and the film is flashy for Quindell Johnson and his resume when it comes time for the NFL Draft in April, but what really will make the biggest difference is how vocal he is on the field, and the leadership he has in the Tigers locker room. What is funny about the leadership he has today, is the fact that it is something he would have never expected when he was younger. Growing up, and early on into his football days he was quiet. He was a leader, and he was able to lead the teams he played on, but up until recently it wasn’t vocally where he was getting the job done. He led by example more.

In his interview with JZ Media and Psychletes he was asked about his leadership, where it came from and more. “Its really the way I grew up.” he answered, “How competitive I am and how competitively I grew up, just how my father installed the things that he did into me to become a leader and that helped me throughout my childhood, in high school and into now. I had to really grow into that role as a leader. In middle school and little league I was always one of the captains and I wasn’t really really vocal at the time but I always led by example and if I had something to say people would listen to me. In high school was where I became vocal. I had to come out of my shell. I had to really open up and talk more, and that was one of my weaknesses before but I know how to talk to people and I used that as a strength of mine as a leader.”

As a leader at the University of Memphis, the defensive back and business management graduate has helped lead the tigers to a 34 win, 17 loss record since joining the program. It has been one of the best runs for the program that he has been able to be a part of. In his senior year he looks to only add to that run and close off his Tigers career with a bang. He isn’t even focused on the future right now, he’s 100% all in for this program.

“I’m just trying to soak it all in and enjoy the process.” he said. It is the advice he got from a lot of guys that came before him at Memphis, players that went on to play in the NFL, and some that still play in the NFL. They encouraged him to simply enjoy the process, and not to stress about anything. A lot of players could be worried about the smallest things in this time period, or have big goals set for themselves to reach prior to hitting the NFL, but for Quindell Johnson, he has stayed calm thus far and is focused on the University of Memphis Tigers Football team. “Its going to be over eventually. (His mentors) know what I can do, but they want me to enjoy this college experience, take it all in, be with my team and be where my feet are at now. Thats one of the biggest messages I got from most of them (guys in the NFL) and thats really it, what I’m focused on.”

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