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Plymouth Grad in All Star Game

January 6, 2011

01/07/11 Just two weeks into his 2008 college season, Eric Quintana’s football career was dealt a major setback.

But in mid-December, the Plymouth native and University of Indianapolis offensive lineman was given news that helped revive some old dreams.  Quintana was invited to play in the 2011 Cactus Bowl Friday at Texas A&M-Kingsville’s Javelina Stadium, an NCAA Division II all-star football game where he’ll get to showcase his skills in front of a national TV audience and scouts from around the NFL one last time.

“It feels awesome to play another game,” he said. “I was going to end my career at the end of the season. I wasn’t planning on going to the next level or anything like that, and then getting selected for this game, it’s very big. It’s a very big game for Division II. A lot of players actually go on to the next level and play in the NFL or arena league football. It just opened my eyes, and I’ve got some contacts for the next level. It’s going to be great to play in this game and show my skills to the nation… It’s going to be a good time and a good learning environment.”

Quintana is one of only 10 players chosen at his position for the Cactus Bowl, which is played in an East vs. West format. He is also one of only four Greyhounds ever selected to play in the 17-year history of the game, and he says he’s been getting plenty of congratulations around the UIndy campus for the accolade.

“I’ve gotten a lot of congratulations from the school, from coaches, from players,” he said. “Only four (UIndy) players have played in it, and just to be in this elite group of athletes to come out of Division II and just to be able to rep my school and to rep Plymouth is just a great accomplishment for me.”

While Quintana may be enjoying the spotlight now, his journey to the Cactus Bowl hasn’t been all glitz and glamour.

After helping the Greyhounds gain over 2,000 rushing yards and set a new school record for points scored in 2007, Quintana was named All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as a sophomore. But he was sidelined with an ACL injury just two games into his junior  

season, leaving the rest of his collegiate football career in question and putting any hopes of future professional glory on the back burner.

The 6-foot-3, 292-pound Rockies football product got back to work with renewed vigor, however, finishing physical rehab ahead of schedule and working his way back to a starting role for his final season with the squad. Rather than feeling bitter about time lost, Quintana said the experience has helped him realize what he was beginning to take for granted.

“Just sitting on the sidelines and seeing what I was missing out on, I took a lot of that for granted when I played through my two seasons,” he said. “I guess you could say I got a big head. When I came back and pushed through my rehab and got out a little earlier than I was supposed to it really made my hard work feel a lot better. I drove myself to be the best I could be. In the past two seasons I’ve done a lot to get myself just to where I am right now… Injury was actually a blessing. It opened my eyes to more things that I could do.”

And with so many watching Thursday, he’s hoping his story isn’t over yet, either.

“It seems like I’m back on the map,” he said of his Cactus Bowl selection. “I’ve done everything in my power to go onto the next level so now it’s just what the scouts see in me and what I can do at this game. Hopefully, something good comes out of it.”

Provided by the Plymouth Alumni Page