Basketball-Converted Cornerback Is A Proven Ball Hawk


Quinten Rollins thought he would be playing basketball internationally right now.

Instead, he's an NFL draft prospect – and could be of interest to the cornerback-needy Baltimore Ravens.

Rollins said his career path changed when an NFL scout called the director of basketball operations at Miami-Ohio and asked if Rollins might have any interest in playing football.

Rollins was finishing up his four-year collegiate basketball career. He finished ranked second in Miami-Ohio history in career steals (214). Only 15 players in MAC history reached 200.

But Rollins said, "Sure, why not? I'll just give [football] a try."

A fifth-year senior, Rollins impressed enough in spring practices at Miami-Ohio to earn a scholarship. That same year, in his first and only season playing college football, he was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year.

It was in large part because he just kept stealing the ball. Rollins notched seven interceptions, ranking first in the conference and third nationally. He's a proven thief, and that's caught the eye of the Ravens.

"He decided to give football a shot, supposedly because he couldn't shoot," Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said with a laugh.

"He's obviously got a twitch and quickness to him. He's done a good job making the transition when you watch his college film and out here [at the Senior Bowl]. He's not a real long guy, but he's certainly tall enough, and he's displayed good ball skills and athleticism out here."

It's true that the 6-foot-0, 203-pound Rollins wasn't much of a basketball scorer. His college career high was 18 points. But those instincts and quick hands made him a terror off the basketball court.

Those skills translate to football, but not instantaneously. Rollins said he felt physically overmatched during his first football practice. Receivers were bullying him, and Rollins kept looking for pass interference flags.

Rollins played running back and receiver in high school, but not playing football in four years and then making the leap to a Division I program (the alma mater of Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh) was a leap.

"It definitely didn't come easy," Rollins said. "It was a big learning curve. But with anything new in life, you've just got to adjust. I got in the film room a lot, studied a lot and worked on my technique a lot. From there, it just became second nature."

The natural thieving skills began to show themselves as Rollins was strong in press coverage and had the ball skills to make plays on contested passes.

"It's having a knack for the ball, having an instinct to go get it when it's in the air and make a play," Rollins said.

In addition to just needing cornerback depth, the Ravens could also use some more playmaking ability from the secondary. Baltimore's secondary notched just six interceptions in 2014. No defensive back had more than one pick, as defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker C.J. Mosley shared the team lead with two.

Rollins is still somewhat raw given one year of college football experience, but he could be a valuable asset once given more coaching. In their latest rankings, CBS Sports projects Rollins to be taken in the first or second round.

"I've got a lot to learn," Rollins said. "Once I learn that, I think the sky's the limit."

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