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July 13, 2014

From the gridiron to the fairway, golf a new love for Quincy Wilson

MORGANTOWN — The image that remains in the minds of any West Virginia football fan of Quincy Wilson came in the closing minutes of a monumental battle with Miami in the Orange Bowl, the Mountaineers trying to pull off the greatest upset in the school’s history.

The muscular running back took a little swing pass from Rasheed Marshall at the Miami 33, shook off a tackle by burly defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who played a decade with the New England Patriots; hurdled safety Sean Taylor, who was becoming an NFL star when shot to death at age 24, and then simply bowled over defensive back Brandon Meriweather, delivering a blow to what would become a Pro Bowl NFL player that sent him flying four yards through the air before running into the end zone.

It was a move that branded Wilson as real-life action figure, a physical freak who could eat nails, walk over a bed of hot coals carrying an elephant on his back and who, if he couldn’t leap over buildings in a single bound, could simply run right through them.

But what happens to a player like that, a physical specimen who feeds off such action, when the lights are turned off on his career and football is nothing more than a YouTube clip on his memory?

What is Quincy Wilson, who is serving as WVU’s assistant director of football operations, doing these days to stay active?

Golfing, that’s what.

At least that’s what he’s doing when he isn’t playing softball.

Honest.

“I started playing golf going to outings,” Wilson recalled the other day, referring to charity fund raisers.

It was a social thing. Play some golf, shake some hands, drink a beer … but the golf bug took a bite out of him.

“It’s now gotten to the point where I’ll go play 18 or go out and play 9 if I have a chance,” he said.

“We have so many nice courses here … the Pines, Lakeview is a great course, Mountaineer … you can’t help but find someone who wants to go play.”

Somehow, you don’t picture the tough-guy football players taking up golf. It’s a game for quarterbacks. Marc Bulger, for example, once had his handicap down to a 1 and Mike Forte, who founded the Boston Beanery chain of restaurants in Morgantown, Grafton and beyond, recalls playing in the Brian Jozwiak Tournament with Bulger on his team at Bel Meadows in Bridgeport.

There is this one par 5 where if you hit the ball long off the tee, and Bulger does, you can go for the green but you have to hit it about 285 yards and there’s water in front along with a small opening between the trees.

“Bulger said I think I’ll try to go for it,” Forte recalled, relating that Bulger not only reached the green but made the putt to give their team an eagle 3.

But golf wouldn’t seem to offer enough of a physical challenge to the likes of a Quincy Wilson.

Don’t bet on it.

“It’s not even the challenge,” Wilson said when asked what it was that drew him to the game. “When you are an athlete in any sport, self-motivation is always the key. With golf, it’s the swing, it’s determining what club you use … if you hit a good shot it gets your chest pumping.”

He paused for a moment there, as if to let reality set in.

“Of course, on the next drive, you might hit it to the ladies’ tee,” he said, speaking like any other golfer.

It comes down to competition, to play against a golf course, against yourself and, of course, against your group.

“It’s the feeling you get when you do something good,” Wilson said. “It’s one of those sports everyone can play. You get going, get some competition going, especially with the guys on our staff when we get to talking at each other.”

Trash talking … from the gridiron to the fairways.

Now don’t get the idea that Wilson has mastered the game yet.

Few do.

“I can shoot in the low 90s now,” he said, inferring better things were to come and you have to believe if he works at it like he did football, he’ll figure it out. “I’m all in now. I just got my clubs regripped.”

How much does Wilson like playing golf?

“I love it,” he said. “Next to playing softball, which is my new love now, golf is a close second.”

Golf and softball for Quincy Wilson … sure hope they have that rule that keeps catchers from blocking home plate is ‘Q’ is trying to score.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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