Qualls moves positions and finds his role with West Virginia football
Blake Seiler doesn’t have to think long for the biggest surprise in his position room.
That’s because it’s been Quondarius Qualls in a run away.
“Without a doubt,” he said.
An enigma of sorts, Qualls has only played 88 snaps in his two seasons with the West Virginia football program and has bounced between several positions since arriving from the junior college ranks.
Coincidentally enough Seiler was already familiar with Qualls because he recruited him while he was at Kansas State. At the time he was a 185-pound athlete at Farmerville, Louisiana, a small town but he made a special trip to see him based off word-of-mouth from coaches in the area.
“He’s all over the place. Plays everywhere and anybody that can run like that or play football like that you need to take a look at him,” Seiler said.
Seiler actually didn’t even recognize Qualls at first as he now is a 240-pound man. In the spring he spent time as a defensive end but emerged as the best speed rusher on the roster. The addition of Reuben Jones, a graduate transfer defensive end, also allowed for some flexibility with the personnel.
That was enough for the position coach to suggest first moving him to a third down package with the rush team and then suggesting Qualls transition to the linebacker room fulltime. Unlike some of the other options he has a disruptive element with some twitch and explosion off the edge.
It’s a move that has paid off at this stage.
“I’m glad we did,” Seiler said.
"He's the best natural pass rusher on our football team," head coach Neal Brown added.
Despite missing essentially all of last season with a torn ACL, Qualls has quickly blossomed in his role as a hybrid pass rushing linebacker. The getting after the quarterback part was assumed but he has actually impressed with how he has been able to drop into coverage.
“It’s way above average. The biggest thing he needs to do is time on the job and learn his responsibilities,” he said.
The position is essentially an extension of the defensive line but he isn’t expected to play with his hand on the ground instead dropping into coverage and rushing the passer. Some players have to be natural at avoiding blockers instead of running through people and he possesses that aspect.
But Qualls’ development and to the overall outlook of the position as a whole.
“I feel a lot better,” he said. “Moving Quondarus has been real encouraging.”
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