Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Giving thanks to and for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers, a grateful survivor

USF's Quinton Flowers watches the defense from the sidelines during the University of South Florida's Spring Game on Saturday afternoon, April 16, 2016 at Corbett Stadium at USF.


USF's Quinton Flowers watches the defense from the sidelines during the University of South Florida's Spring Game on Saturday afternoon, April 16, 2016 at Corbett Stadium at USF.

TAMPA — "You've got to give thanks," Quinton Flowers said.

USF's sensational dual-threat junior quarterback, the amazing Q, whose riveting success story Football America needs to discover, sat on a chair next to the USF practice fields on a sunny afternoon and talked about Thanksgiving. His mother, Nolita — "Nancy" to everyone — ran the show with a loving embrace.

"She made sure Thanksgiving was for everybody, for people in the neighborhood who didn't have," Flowers said. "She started cooking two days before."

He gave thanks for his baby girl, Amayah, who turns two months old on Friday. Flowers was in the room with his longtime girlfriend, Demya McCullough, when she delivered Amayah, who weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces.

Papa Q.

"It was amazing," Flowers said. "I was there to help the doctor, to help catch her when she came out."

His first reception of the season.

"Something I'll never forget."

And there was when he was 14, after football practice, riding his bicycle through his Miami neighborhood, the kind the tourists never visit.

A car pulled up.

"There was a gun pointing at me," Flowers said. "They thought I'd stolen something from their family. That could have been the end, right there."

Quinton Flowers is still here, and ever remarkable. He's the greatest football player in USF history.

Flowers has taken Bulls coach Willie Taggart's offense — a combination of West Coast and spread and up-tempo — and turned it into a juggernaut. He's the biggest reason USF is 9-2 heading to Saturday's rival game against UCF.

Flowers has passed for 2,399 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has run for 1,273 yards and 13 touchdowns. He averages 8.1 yards per carry, second best in the nation, and is within 100 rushing yards of the potential Heisman Trophy, Lamar Jackson of Louisville.

Where to find a Q highlight reel?

"Pick a game," USF quarterbacks coach and former Bucs quarterback Shaun King said. "Pick any game."

"Never can you get tired of watching Q," said USF running back Marlon Mack, who is also Flower's roommate. "Q does magical things."

And that's not even the amazing part.

Here's the amazing part.

"He had every reason, every legitimate reason, to give up," King said.

Flowers was 7 when his father, Nathaniel, was killed by a stray bullet in the front yard. Before Flowers' senior season at Miami's Jackson High, Nancy died after a long battle with cancer. In 2014, a few days before Flowers' first USF start, his brother, Bradley, was killed in a drive-by shooting. Bradley had asked the driver to slow down because of the children playing.

"Football was always the thing that made me feel free," Flowers said. "It made me find a way out of the neighborhood, away from the streets. Football was the only way. The streets will find you."

All that tragedy.

All that pain.

"Q is made of steel," said former NFL receiver Antonio Brown, who coached Flowers growing up and at Jackson High. "This young man fought through everything."

Including doubters, all those schools that wanted Q the athlete, not Q the quarterback. Miami, Florida State and Florida were that way.

"At those places, I would have been just another guy," Flowers said. "I came to the right place."

He came to USF.

The Bulls have won 16 of their last 20 games, with absurd amounts of offense, blinding numbers. Blinding Q.

And that's not the amazing part.

"There are not many adults who could deal with what he's had to deal with in his life," Taggart said. "Resilience. Calmness. He just doesn't rattle. I try sometimes. I chew him up, rip him. He just says, 'Yes, sir.' That's him."

Quinton Flowers sat outside with the sun on his face. He thinks he's the best college football player in the country. He thinks he'll eventually play on Sundays. He thought of his mother.

"I wanted to buy her a house with her name on it."

But now there's his baby girl.

"I kiss her and she kisses me back," Flowers said. "That's what matters. I'm thankful for every day I get to see a sunrise. I don't take anything for granted."

You've got to give thanks.

Giving thanks to and for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers, a grateful survivor 11/22/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 7:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Vibe is good around Clearwater volleyball this season

    Volleyball Preps

    CLEARWATER — Katy Rice knows what a good volleyball team looks like, and the Clearwater coach believes she has a pretty good one this year. Rice was a left-side hitter on the only two teams to win a volleyball state championship at Clearwater, in 1997 and 2000.

    Clearwater High School girl's volleyball player Hailey Bosetti (OPP) plays the ball during team practice on Monday (8/14/17) at the school in Clearwater.
  2. Jameis Winston's subtle but strong moment of leadership displayed on 'Hard Knocks'


    Quarterback Jameis Winston went to each teammate in the locker room prior to the Bucs' preseason opener Friday at Cincinnati with one message: 'I got your back.'

    Then he proved it.

    Jameis Winston sarcastically tells offensive linemen James Stone and James Harrison he's glad glad they're having fun while quarterback Ryan Griffin is being attended to in the locker room by the Bucs medical staff. [HBO/NFL FILMS]
  3. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Highlights — and fights — from Jacksonville


    Greg Auman is back home after two days of joint practices between the Bucs and Jaguars in Jacksonville. He recaps those practices — and fights — and talks about highlights from Tuesday's episode …

    Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Kenneth Walker, right, cannot snag a pass against Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith during a joint NFL football practice Monday in Jacksonville. [Will Dickey/Florida Times-Union]
  4. Who's No. 2: Florida State Seminoles or Ohio State Buckeyes?


    The toughest decision in my first stint as a voter for the AP Top 25 came at the top.

  5. Rays morning after: The real reasons behind Tuesday's win over Blue Jays


    Scoring six runs was the big news for the offensively challenged Rays in Tuesday's victory over the Blue Jays.

    Corey Dickerson (10) celebrates Tuesday's victory with Steven Souza Jr. (20) and Peter Bourjos (18).