Size doesn’t matter

Lance Lysowski

Quinton Rainey is used to being the smallest player at his position.

The fifth-year senior defensive lineman, who is listed at 5 foot 11 inch and 235 pounds, has heard it all.

“I do get a lot of comments from the other team,” Rainey said, “like ‘why do they have a 20-pound nose guard, and why is he out here? Shouldn’t he be playing running back or linebacker?’

“After the first couple of hits, they understand why I play the position. I have to show every school that. They have to understand that I am a nose guard, and I am going to play my tail off.”

Rainey has shown opposing linemen for four years why the statements are unfounded. The Virginia Beach, Va., native has recorded 45 tackles and 3.5 sacks in his career.

In two games this year, Rainey’s made eight tackles, including two and a half for a loss, and recovered two fumbles. Against Boston College last Saturday, he recorded three tackles despite matching up against offensive linemen 70- to 100-pounds heavier.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said Rainey’s play on the field is a product of the strength and quickness he displays as soon as the ball is snapped.

“He plays very fast,” Martin said. “He’s got great speed; he’s got great quickness and anticipation. He’s probably one of the best I’ve ever seen at anticipating the snap count.”

At Landstown High School, Rainey played linebacker and running back — where he shared a backfield with Minnesota Vikings wide receiver and former Florida Gator Percy Harvin.

Rainey posted 120 tackles in both his junior and senior seasons and rushed for 800 yards and eight touchdowns. When he arrived at Kent State, he was switched to his current position at nose tackle.

It didn’t take long for Rainey to realize how much different college football really is.

On Oct. 13 of his freshman season, the defensive lineman was on kick-off coverage team.

While running down field, he was hit by Buckeyes junior linebacker Mark Johnson.

Rainey was knocked down, but he said he learned an invaluable lesson from speaking to Johnson after the game: size does not matter.

“One time I got knocked down, it just clicked in my head that I’m playing college football,” Rainey said. “I can’t be nervous or scared because there’s always going to be people bigger than me out here on the field so I just had to own up. He said no hard feelings. It doesn’t matter how big you are or how small you are, or anything like that. It matters how you play. That’s how I live and practice every day.”

While Rainey’s evolution on the field has been apparent, the changes he’s made off the field are what Martin said have been the most evident.

“It’s the maturity factor,” Martin said. “He’s grown up into a really responsible young man, and he’s very disciplined. He knows what he needs to do to be successful. A lot of guys when they’re young don’t understand that. He’s grown into that role.”

Rainey and the Flashes will be at a size disadvantage for the second-consecutive week when the team travels to Penn State on Saturday. Rainey said games against Bowl Championship Series schools can be overwhelming for younger players, but he offers them the same advice every year.

“Just play you’re hardest,” Rainey said. “There’s always going to be guys who are stronger, faster. You always have to play your heart out. It doesn’t matter what they do, it matters what you do.”

By the numbers: Quinton Rainey


Games: 38

Games Started: 12

Tackles: 45

Sacks: 3.5

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].