A Fond and Fitting Farewell to Quinton Flowers

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Quinton Flowers passed for 814 yards and eight touchdowns, while rushing for another 208 yards and two scores, in the final games of his career at USF. I would label this going out with a bang, were it not so on-par for his entire three years captaining the Bulls offense.

Saturday’s 38-34 win in the Birmingham Bowl sends Quinton Flowers from USF with 29 wins since 2015. He exits as the face of an era in which the high-potential program made important strides toward realizing its capability.

The Birmingham Bowl was everything that made Quinton Flowers’ time at USF special, condescended largely into one quarter. He put up big numbers both via the pass and the run, and came through in the clutch.

It was his best performance since…well, his last, which was the single-greatest of the 2017 regular season. Flowers nearly willed the Bulls past undefeated rival UCF for an American East division title.

Such was his M.O. At a point in college football history when dual-threat quarterbacks have become more rule than exception, Flowers still managed to produce at levels largely not approached by anyone else in the nation.

In 2016, his 2,812 yards passing and 1,530 yards rushing made him more comparable to Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson than he was to any other quarterback. Despite changes in coaching staff and the departure of running mate Marlon Mack, Flowers’ 2017 statistics were not negatively impacted. He finishes 2017 at 2,911 yards passing and 24 scores, and Saturday’s effort put him over 1,000 yards rushing again.

In the history of college football, just 13 quarterbacks rushed for 1,000 and passed for 2,000 in the same season. Quinton Flowers has now done it twice, a feat that Heisman winners Johnny Manziel nor Tim Tebow can claim.

Though I could claim Flowers’ excellence was unfairly overlooked, it’s a phenomenon not exclusive to him. Group of Five talent simply does not command the same respect as the power conferences among the national punditry.

Quinton Flowers delivering numbers comparable to Lamar Jackson without any of the accolades speaks to the larger issue for the Group of Five; one that denies a path to the Playoff or inclusion at the Heisman ceremony. Group of Five teams and players are at a disadvantage in that they have to excel in consecutive seasons to garner such attention — and in that lies what may be the most important aspect of Flowers’ time quarterbacking the Bulls.

Flowers’ leadership bridged the gap from Willie Taggart’s tenure into the Charlie Strong era, setting the tone for USF to continue building toward its high ceiling. With back-to-back double-digit-win seasons and some impressive performances on the national stage to close out 2017, Quinton Flowers represented the potential of his program to the fullest.

USF is on a solid foundation for the future, and it’s a foundation Quinton Flowers was integral in laying.