JACKSONVILLE – Oakleaf High School's best and first big-time player, linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, got his most-anticipated phone call after a record setting finish for the University of Miami with a selection by the National Football League Jacksonville Jaguars in the Saturday NFL drafts' fourth round; 140th pick overall.
"He's all about football; alpha male, leader, highly productive," said Jaguars Director of College Scouting Mark Ellenz in a videoconference Saturday as posted on Jaguars.com. "I think that's more just kind of a coincidence deal. It wouldn't matter if he wasn't from here. It's a bonus that he is because he's a quality kid and a really good football player. This kid's a four-year starter, real productive, smart, tough. All about ball."
In his phone call with Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell, Quarterman was asked if he had ever heard of a team called the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
Thankfully, Quarterman answered yes.
"'Shaq there?'," asked Caldwell when his phone call was answered. "Have you heard of this team? I know you have. You are right around the corner. It'll make a great little story, drafted by Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round. We are going to make that dream come true."
"Yes, sir, I have," said Quarterman. "I'm down the street; born and raised. I can't wait to get to work. That sounds like a dream come true."
Quarterman, who was integral in the Oakleaf High School undefeated regular season in 2014 that finished with a set of firsts; the unbeaten regular season, a home first time playoff game followed by two more home playoff games with Niceville High ending the streak in the region finals.
"The same thing happened out of junior high school," said Quarterman, who played under retired Oakleaf Junior High School coach Bill Milner. "I had to come in as a freshman, put my head down and just put my work toward the plow. And I ended up all right. I became the leader that I was. I did the same thing at the University of Miami. My freshman year, I came in and put my head down and ended up starting for four years."
One guy who saw Quarterman up close and personal was former Oakleaf High head football coach Derek Chipoletti, who guided the Knights to their record-setting season. Chipoletti noted that Quarterman is his first drafted player as a head coach with Jeremy Boykin and Chris Westry from Oakleaf playing some NFL ball and former Fleming Island offensive lineman Ian Silberman going pro with Chipoletti an assistant with dad Neal Chipoletti.
"It's not anything about me, it's all about Shaq and all those guys," said Chipolett. "When you put a very talented individual that has work ethic and keeps his nose clean, this is what can happen. I am sure his family; Dexter and Donna, and the family that raised him, are rejoicing."
Quarterman's field presence, according to former Oakleaf High teammate Chris Westry, now a second-year Dallas Cowboy cornerback after four years at the University of Kentucky, was one that did not take a lot of talk. Westry was a senior with Quarterman, then a junior during the historic 2014 championship season.
"What stands out the most is how he approaches the game," said Westry. "He has always had that professional approach and greatness at every level. He led by example. He didn't have to say much. They way he played, we just followed suit."
For the Jaguars, who lost defensive names like Jalen Ramsey, Dante Fowler, Jr., and Calais Campbell in the last two years, were intent on replacing some defensive playmakers with two first round defenders; University of Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson as a ninth overall choice and defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson out of LSU as the 20 choice also in round one, thanks to Ramsey and Campbell trades.
Jacksonville took Quarterman, a 5.90 rated Pro Combine finisher with Clemson's Isaiah Simmons top rated linebacker at 7.03 out of a possible eight the top drawer.
Quarterman, 6'-3", 234 pounds, was a two-time first-team All-Atlantic Conference selection at Miami the past two seasons. He was second-team All-ACC in 2017.
Quarterman provides a level of ball-hungry intensity that got him 107 tackles last fall with 15.5 for losses on top of his 52 straight starts since his freshman year that stands as a new NCAA football record. Quarterman posted 76.5 tackles for loss in his four years at Miami.
"He's the kind of guy they don't mess with there (Miami)," said Ellenz. "He's been running the show since he was a freshman."
Jacksonville skipped one slot for offense with Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault, Jr., sliding in at 42nd pick (Round 2) in front of Ohio State University defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton at 73 (Round 3).
Jaguars Draft Tracker
1. (9th pick, 1st round) C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
2. (20th pick, 1st round) K'Lavon Chaison, DT, LSU
3. (42nd pick, 2nd round) Laviska Shenault, Jr., WR, Colorado
4. (73rd pick, 3rd round) DaVon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State
5. (116th pick, 4th round) Ben Bartch, OL, St. Johns (MN)
6. (137th pick, 4th round) Josiah Scott, DB, Michigan State
7. (140 pick, 4th round) Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami
8. (157th pick, 5th round) Daniel Thomas, S, Auburn
9. (165th pick, 5th round) Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
10. (189th pick, 6th round) Jake Luton, QB, Oregon State
11. (206th pick, 6th round) Tyler Davis, TE, Georgia Tech
12. (223rd pick, 7th round) Chris Claybrooks, DB, Memphis