Former Miami (Fla.) defensive end Quincy Roche, a native of Randallstown, Md., went from unheralded prospect out of New Town High School to a surefire bet to be taken in the 2021 NFL Draft — and along the way, he got some lessons from a childhood hero.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Roche racked up 26 sacks, 39.5 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles at Temple from 2017-2019, then transferred to Miami for the 2020 season. He posted 4.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 10 games for the Hurricanes this fall, forming a productive pass-rush duo with Jaelan Phillips for a Miami team that went 8-3.
Roche, who grew up a Ravens fan, was excited to cross paths with Ed Reed at Miami. Reed, listed as the program’s “Chief of Staff,” played for the Hurricanes from 1998-2001 and for the Ravens from 2002-2012. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019 and was hired by Miami in early 2020; he works as an adviser to head coach Manny Diaz in his current role.
Roche said he pulled Reed to the side one day to tell him he was from the Baltimore area. In fact, Roche attended Reed’s football camp multiple times as a kid and still has a pair of cleats that were signed by Reed.
“… I was like, ‘Man, you don’t even know. You’re the reason why I’m even playing football today — you and Ray Lewis, y’all the reason why I even picked up a football and wanted to [play],'” Roche said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 31. “Pregame, I used to watch Ray Lewis pump-up videos. Ed Reed, to be able to have him as a coach, to be able to seek advice, to have him as a mentor is priceless.”
Reed, who posted 21 interceptions during his college career, helped lead Miami to the national championship in 2001. The following spring, Reed was one of five Hurricanes taken in the first round along with Bryant McKinnie, Jeremy Shockey, Phillip Buchanon and Mike Rumph. Reed went on to accumulate 64 interceptions during his 12-year pro career, seventh in NFL history, and won a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens.
Roche said Reed helped him understand how to establish a professional routine.
“Just kind of approaching every day as a professional, approaching every day like it’s your last day — not ever getting complacent, not ever getting comfortable with where you are in your current position,” Roche said. “And that’s one of the things that he preaches — approaching every day like you’re a professional and demanding the best out of your team, because he’s big on leadership and how you affect other people.
“That’s one of the things that he used to harp on with me a lot is just bringing somebody with you, trying to bring your teammates with you so they can be just as successful after you leave as they were when you were there.”
Roche considered turning pro after the 2019 season but ultimately decided to prove that he could produce at the Power Five level as a graduate transfer before entering the draft. Roche didn’t put up quite the same numbers at Miami that he did at Temple, but he downplayed sack totals as the be-all and end-all.
“People who really understand football, they’ll see that the scheme was a little bit different. My role on the team was a little bit different. I had a lot more talent around me. The sack count was spread out a lot more,” Roche said. “… Sacks aren’t the most important and effective pass rush stat — how many pressures you’re getting, how you’re affecting the quarterback, are you getting strip sacks when you touch the quarterback. There are a lot of things that factor into it.”
Roche is the No. 14 defensive end in this draft class, according to Walter Football. He is currently training in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and recently accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, set for Jan. 30 in Mobile, Ala. It’s unclear how the rest of the draft process will shake out, but Roche is planning on attending the NFL Scouting Combine as well.
Not bad for a player who was rated as a two-star recruit at New Town by Rivals.
“It’s part of the reason I’ve had so much success in my college career. It’s a huge, huge chip on my shoulder,” Roche said. “… The guy playing on the other side of me, [Jaelan Phillips], was the No. 1 recruit coming out of high school. We come from totally different backgrounds. We got to the same place, but I’ve had to overcome so many more obstacles and overcome so many different challenges and come so far. It definitely creates a huge chip on my shoulder, but I wouldn’t rather have it any other way.”
For more from Roche, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Miami Athletics