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As his XFL debut nears, Quinton Flowers yearns to give USF fans an encore performance

The record-setting Bulls QB will play in the Tampa Bay Vipers’ opener, but probably not as much as he’d like.
Former USF dual-threat extraordinaire Quinton Flowers is one of four quarterbacks on the roster of the XFL's Tampa Bay Vipers. [Tampa Bay Vipers]
Former USF dual-threat extraordinaire Quinton Flowers is one of four quarterbacks on the roster of the XFL's Tampa Bay Vipers. [Tampa Bay Vipers]
Published Jan. 29
Updated Feb. 4

PLANT CITY ― A CBS Sports Network college football analyst in the fall, Aaron Murray couldn’t help delivering a surreal snippet of play-by-play Tuesday.

Going by Murray’s call, surreal remains synonymous with Quinton Flowers.

“We were doing actually a QB drill at one point,” Murray said, recounting a Tampa Bay Vipers workout Monday in Plant City. “You take a drop, and our (quarterbacks) coach, Josh (Neiswander), he’s gonna attack you and you kind of move in the pocket, set up and deliver a pass down the field.

“And Quinton made him miss so bad one time, I thought he was gonna fall over. That’s just his ability to make guys miss within the pocket…or just in space. It’s fun to watch.”

Now, after two full years of deprivation, USF fans get to watch it again as well. If only in snippets at first.

“Just control what you can control and let everything else just out the window,” Flowers said.

Related: Ex-Florida Gator Antonio Callaway feared he'd never play pro football again

After two autumns of toil in the obscurity of NFL practice squads, Flowers has made the Vipers’ 52-man roster. On Tuesday, coach Marc Trestman said he’ll play in the Feb. 9 season opener in New York, albeit probably not in a role as expansive as Bulls fans ― or perhaps even Flowers ― believe he warrants.

“Aaron did everything he could to solidify his position as the first-team player, but Q has to understand, and does know ― transparently speaking ― that he’s gonna play in the first game,” Trestman said. “Whether it’s for a series involving what we’re doing, he’ll be a part of what we do in the first game.”

One of four quarterbacks on the Vipers roster, Flowers is the only one listed as a quarterback/running back. That designation connotes he’ll be employed for wildcat situations, jet sweeps, or perhaps to maximize an XFL rule permitting two forward passes (behind the line of scrimmage) on the same play.

Clearly, USF’s all-time total yardage leader believes he’s capable of more, a notion undoubtedly shared by a legion of Bulls fans who saw him win 28 of his last 34 starts at USF and establish the program record for mesmerizing YouTube clips.

Yet Murray, the former Plant High and Georgia star designated to the Vipers as one of the “Tier 1” quarterbacks in the XFL draft, has established himself as the starter. Hampering Flowers’ bid for the job were some mild tooth and foot ailments that sidelined him for a portion of training camp in Houston.

Hence his recent string of tweets eliciting frustration.

“I would just say sometimes things get hectic,” he said. “You get kinda frustrated just knowing that it’s something that you want to work on, and you’re waiting for the opportunity to come, and sometimes things just don’t go as planned.”

Yet any lingering annoyance shouldn’t be construed as a lack of excitement to return to his collegiate home turf. The Vipers’ Feb. 22 home opener will be Flowers’ first game at Raymond James Stadium since his senior night triumph against Tulsa on Nov. 16, 2017.

Bulls fans will take any glimpse they can get, knowing how Flowers can transform a snippet into a spectacle.

“Just go out every day and give people a show that they want to see, that’s my biggest thing,” Flowers said. “I’d like to just give the fans something to talk about, give Tampa something to talk about, and just have fun.”


  1. In this file photo, XFL commissioner Oliver Luck visits Tampa Bay Vipers players at their Plant City practice facility. [XFL]
  2. Tampa Bay Vipers fans, from left, Allie Goodman, of Naples, Bill Downing, of New Port Richey, and Don "Skully" Bradshaw, of Land O' Lakes, visit outside Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, while attending the Vipers' XFL home opener vs. the Houston Roughnecks in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  3. Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) charges for yards during the second quarter of the XFL home opener against the Houston Roughnecks on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  4. Raymond James Stadium will be opening for a February football game today as the XFL's Tampa Bay Vipers play their first home game. [EDUARDO ENCINA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  5. A determination to play the position he loves has Tampa Bay Vipers defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock (49) still pushing at age 28. The Vipers play their home opener at 2 p.m. Saturday against Houston at Raymond James Stadium. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  6. The XFL begins its 10-week regular season Feb. 8, one week after the NFL's Super Bowl. [CLIFF WELCH  |  Icon Sportswire]
  7. Vipers' Quinton Flowers (9) said it's been difficult to get into a rhythm with quarterbacks moving in and out. Is that why the Vipers have struggled in the red zone so much? [STEVE LUCIANO  |  AP]
  8. Tampa Bay Vipers defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville drove race cars in between football stints over the years. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  9. Tim Tebow, who is in spring training with the Mets, says he wants to be "all in" on baseball. [Tampa Bay Times]
  10. A closeup detail view of the XFL ball. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano) [STEVE LUCIANO  |  AP]
  11. Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback Taylor Cornelius warms up before last week's XFL opener at the New York Guardians. [STEVE LUCIANO  |  AP]