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Preps

Illinois school focuses on Florida recruits

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 04:31 PM

Quincy University.

Ever heard of it?

Nestled between the Mississippi River to the west - which dissects Illinois from Missouri - and Interstate 172 to the east, the university of 1,400 students is on the central western edge of Illinois.

Still unfamiliar? Don't worry. Chances are football coaches at that institution, roughly 1,000 miles away from the state of Florida, have heard of you.

"I've been the head coach here, going on my 11th season. I've been going to Florida since I was an assistant coach," Quincy coach Bill Terlisner said. "At first, I started trying to do the whole state of Florida recruiting and then I realized, let's just focus on three to four real good areas."

Those areas include Tampa, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers and Lake Wales.

Terlisner also has been a regular at the National Football Foundation High School Recruiting Fair hosted by East Bay High.

So how successful have Terlisner and his staff been at getting kids to leave the state of Florida? During the 2010 season, the Hawks' roster included 56 players from Florida, and of those, 27 were from the Tampa Bay area, including the team's leading rusher, Sterling Ross.

The Ridgewood graduate verbally committed to play at Florida International, but when things turned sour with FIU, Quincy, an NAIA school, was there.

"Three weeks before the signing period ended, Quincy came to me and said they'd been looking at me since I was at Mitchell (High) my sophomore and junior years," Ross said. "They said I was really talented and they would give me a full ride if I went there and I would have a chance to start."

Although he had a slow start to the 2010 season, Ross, who redshirted his freshman season, finished with 527 rushing yards and three touchdowns to lead the Hawks in rushing. His season was cut short after he sustained ligament damage to an ankle.

Former Riverview lineman William Bramlett still gets a kick out his first experience with snow in Quincy this past fall.

"I was expecting to hate the cold, to be locked in my room, hibernating or something," Bramlett said. "It took a month or so to get used to it and now I'm walking around in sweat pants and a hoodie like I'm in Florida."

So, what about that snow?

"Seeing snow for the first time was definitely awesome," he said. "Just imagine a group of three linemen and two linebackers from Florida running around, throwing snow and making snow angels, doing 12-year-old stuff. That's basically how it was."

There is the typical homesickness that sets in with each player, which is usually remedied to some degree by the large amount of Florida natives at the school.

"Homesickness is an issue, but I approach it as, you know what? If you went to Florida State you'd be homesick," Terlisner said. "I went to Quincy and I was two hours away from the St. Louis area and I was homesick.

"My best weapon against that are the other student-athletes from Florida."

There are some who remain in the Quincy area after finishing school, including Nate Toole, a former running back at Hudson.

Toole played linebacker for the Hawks from 2005-09 and earned a degree in criminal justice. He completed an internship with the Adams County Police Department. And now, he's Quincy's strength and conditioning coordinator.

"There have been several people who have come and played from my area, who I recognized from when I played and they knew me from when I played," Toole said. "It does help. It helps a lot to have something in common with guys and being that far away from home."

So, that recruiting trip to Florida, it has to be plenty of fun for Terlisner. Lots of sun block and beaches, right?

"I know everybody thinks it's a freaking vacation, but it's not," Terlisner said. "When you drive down and you're going from hotel to hotel, I enjoy it, but it's not as much fun as you think."

Honestly, it's just part of the job.

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