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From starting QB to typical student: Checking in with Duke football alum Quentin Harris

A year after he started at quarterback for the Blue Devils, Quentin Harris is back in Durham.
A year after he started at quarterback for the Blue Devils, Quentin Harris is back in Durham.

What’s it like to go from being the big man on campus to a normal student in a matter of months? Quentin Harris can tell you all about it.

After starting every game at quarterback for Duke in 2019, Harris is back in Durham taking classes this fall. Except for the first time since 2014, you won't see the Wilton, Conn., native suited up on the Blue Devil sidelines this season, as last year marked the end of his collegiate eligibility. Instead, Harris will be at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, set to complete his MBA degree in May 2021.

Though he did not sign with an NFL team this spring, Harris spent his summer training in Charlotte with former Blue Devil quarterback turned private quarterback coach Anthony Boone, participating in workouts that were also attended by the two most notable Duke products currently in the NFL: Daniel Jones and Jamison Crowder. But now Harris is back on campus as just a student, meaning his biggest worries are about group projects and future job prospects, not an opposing defensive end.

As for what Harris’ plans for after graduation actually are, the answer isn’t simple. Maybe he’ll accept an assistant coaching position waiting for him with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Or accept a return offer at JPMorgan Chase. Or pursue a career in luxury real estate in Texas or Los Angeles. Or attempt to play his way into a roster spot in an NFL training camp. As you can tell, the former Blue Devil signal caller has a lot to figure out over the next few months.

“Basically, I have to figure out what I want to do and see how things shake out,” Harris told The Chronicle in an interview last week. “It's still kind of weird having that uncertainty with football, too, where I’m pursuing jobs, but I don't know what might happen next year. I might get a random call to at least go to a mini camp or something.”

Football may still be in the cards for Harris personally, but that does not mean he gets to enjoy the same benefits that members of the football team do. Due to COVID-related restrictions, he has actually not been around the 2020 Blue Devils at all, meaning Harris has migrated from the cushy confines of the Yoh Football Center weight room to his apartment complex’s gym. 

Not being around the team isn’t all bad for Harris, with one notable benefit: getting to sleep like other college students do.

“It's definitely different waking up a little bit later and waking up at like 8:30, 9 a.m. now as opposed to 5:45 or 6 a.m. And now I don't have any workouts or anything beforehand. So I definitely have a lot more time to get assignments done, that's for sure,” Harris said with a laugh.

Another upside to not being on the football field for the first time since he was six years old is that Harris gets to sit back and enjoy autumn Saturdays as a fan.

“You do so much film study and film work that watching other games almost feels like [a job],” Harris said. “So I'm excited to not necessarily have the film study, to be able to just watch and enjoy games and do things on the weekend, go places. Maybe go to a bar with some friends and have a drink while watching some games and cheering on Duke.”

With no more film study or training on Sundays, Harris also has more time to watch his beloved Dallas Cowboys. There’s just one problem with his Cowboy fandom: His close friend and predecessor at Duke, Daniel Jones, is captain for the New York Giants, Dallas’ NFC East division rival.

What happens when Harris’ favorite team faces off against his friend twice a season? For Harris, his love for the Cowboys supersedes his friendship with Jones. 

“I joke with him all the time. I'm like, 'I hope you have a great game, but I hope you guys will lose,’” Harris chuckled. “But I'm obviously rooting for him and for him to have a good season this year. I talked with him a little bit yesterday, actually. I showed him my newest [purchase]. I've been taking up golf a little bit more now to fill some free time and my newest purchase on Amazon was a Cowboys golf towel, so I made sure to show him that. He had some stuff to say about that obviously. But I hope he does well and, honestly, if the Cowboys lose to anybody I'm cool with them losing to the Giants.”

Harris’ career prospects may seem all over the place, but that does not mean they are without thought. He has maintained contact with his agent, preparing for any NFL tryouts that may come his way. If playing does not work out, working in the NFL is still on the table, with an outstanding coaching offer from Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski waiting for Harris after graduation. Should he decide to pivot away from football, he could return to JPMorgan Chase, where he interned on the Sales & Trading team in 2019, or join former Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk on the Texas real estate scene.

This fall is Harris’ first without football in what seems like forever, and there’s a chance that change becomes permanent.

“I have to prepare [for playing], but still move on with life in a way, too," Harris said.

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