O’Quinn’s example appreciated

The Eastern Maumee Bay Community already has one lineman in the NFL — Curtice native Michael Deiter (Genoa/Wisconsin), a 25-year-old, 6-foot-6, 315-pound center and guard for the Miami Dolphins.

Could University of Cincinnati’s 6-4, 305-pound starting junior offensive lineman Dylan O’Quinn (Lake), who plays left guard and right tackle, be next? 

O’Quinn started every game this season, helping lead the No. 4 Bearcats to a 13-1 season, American Athletic Conference championship and the NCAA playoff semifinals, where they lost to No. 1 Alabama.

Current Lake coach Josh Andrews says O’Quinn has set an excellent example. O’Quinn, a first team All-AAC selection, has made 20 career starts.

“He played when (Mark) Emans was the head coach, but I was on that staff.  Dylan at one point played quarterback for us (until his sophomore year) and finished up at tight end.  

“The reason I bring that up is because it took a transitional mindset to take on playing on the offensive line at the Division I level. His efforts and growth were phenomenal. Everyone from Lake couldn’t be prouder of him,” Andrews continued.  

“I tweeted to Dylan after the game saying, ‘I’m proud of the accomplishments and, man, you have become Dylan. Thank you for being a great representative of Lake. Your family and friends couldn’t be prouder of you. Thank you for being a football player and a man young kids and players can look up to.”

After graduating from Lake, O’Quinn was ranked as one of the top 70 players in Ohio by 247Sports.com. He was named Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association third team Division V All-Ohio, first team All Northwest District and second team All-Northern Buckeye Conference.

O’Quinn chose UC over offers from Western Michigan, Toledo, Eastern Michigan and Indiana State. He is proud to be among a large contingent of Ohio football players on Cincinnati’s roster.

“For sure,” O’Quinn said. “I think before (Cincinnati coach Luke) Fickell got here there were only 13 guys on the team from Ohio and now I think there are about 50. It’s cool because we all grew up playing each other in high school and formed bonds over the years.”

O’Quinn, who played defensive end and tight end in high school, was not just originally recruited as an offensive lineman.

“It started in a grey area when I got recruited because they didn’t really tell me, but I knew going into it, based on getting recruited for tackle at other schools, that I was going to be a tackle or on the offensive line in college,” O’Quinn said.


‘Wear people out’

 Cincinnati’s offense was ranked 10th in the nation in scoring, so O’Quinn knew how important the offensive line’s role was in getting points on the board.

“I think any good offense starts with the offensive line. It starts with us attacking people up front. Our motto this year is just, ‘Wear people out and once you get to the second half, the defense starts to tap out.’”

O’Quinn said the offensive line had a simple mentality — to push their opponents into submission.

“Coach puts this on us every single year, and that is to just wear people out. That starts with a Tuesday and a Wednesday practice, just getting dirty. The offensive line has a motto, it’s called “NF Dub,” I won’t get into detail, but that’s our motto.”

O’Quinn says it helped when the line had playmakers like quarterback Desmond Ridder and running back Jerome Ford behind them. Ford, a redshirt junior, has declared for the NFL draft.

“It does make it a lot easier... we put a lot on Des, and he makes a lot of calls…some calls that we, as the offensive line, should make sometimes, but we trust Des to make those calls. And having a running back like Jerome, it makes it easy to block for him…he can hit holes that other running backs can’t hit,” O’Quinn said.

 Under the direction of OL coach Ron Crook, the Bearcats have started the same five, left tackle James Hudson, center Jake Renfro, right guard Vincent McConnell, right tackle Darius Harper, and O'Quinn at left guard as UC rushed for an average of 268 yards on the ground, 519.4 of total offense and surrendering only five sacks in their first five games.

UC averaged 5.9 yards per carry and led the AAC in rushing offense, grinding up 234.2 yards per game on the ground. The offensive line starts a true freshman in Renfro and has allowed just nine sacks, fewest in the AAC.

“Not overly talented but make up for it with a lot of fight,” stated the Joe Moore Award committee. The award has been presented annually to the most outstanding offensive line unit in college football since 2015.

In 2020, O’Quinn played in all 10 games for Cincinnati, starting seven. He moved into the starting lineup at SMU and started the final seven games of the year at left guard. UC’s offensive line was tabbed as a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award. The Bearcats averaged an AAC-best 5.6 yards per carry in 2020, running for 212.4 yards per game and allowing an AAC-low nine sacks during the regular season.

Of course, here is more to college football than blocking. O’Quinn says his teammates on the offensive line have a sense of humor, which made the season even more enjoyable.

“There’s a bunch of guys on the offensive line that are funny and fun to be around…I would have to say Vinny McConnell. He’s just always goofing around, and I don’t know if you’ve seen his Twitter back in the day, but he used to have a sensei Curtis account where he’d do a bunch of ninja stuff. He just lightens things up.”

O’Quinn says while in high school he was never sure that football was going to be his sport. He excelled on the baseball field for former Lake coach Greg Wilker and was a second team All-NBC choice. He also played basketball.

“Growing up, I thought I was going to play baseball in college and maybe professionally. I played either third or pitcher,” O’Quinn said. “I did hit a lot of home runs back in the day. I played up until my senior year in high school.”

(— By Press Sports Editor J. Patrick Eaken from UC Athletics Communications press material)




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