The Cincinnati Bengals wrapped up their minicamp on Thursday and for former-USF quarterback Quinton Flowers, it was part of his journey to an NFL roster in a brand-new position — running back.
Flowers has never played running back in any level of organized football, but said he feels confident about his transition to both a professional system and his new role.
“Everything is going smooth,” Flowers said in an interview with The Oracle on Thursday. “It’s a smooth transition that’s going on right now.”
Flowers is no stranger to being recruited for a different position. During his college search, Alabama wanted him as a wide receiver, South Carolina wanted him as a defensive back and Miami wanted him as a running back.
Instead he chose USF, where he quickly became the centerpiece of its offense. Based on statistics from sports-reference.com, Flowers accounted for nearly 65 percent of USF’s total offense last year. Now, he is a running back with a goal of just making the team.
“It’s very different just knowing that you have a different job now,” Flowers said. “You have to play a role. That’s the biggest thing that you have to adapt to and that’s what I’m adapting to now.”
During the minicamp this month, Flowers was still learning his new position. NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein touted Flowers as a “running talent,” but there is more to the position than just being able to run with the ball — and Flowers knows it.
“I would have to say picking up block protections is one of the toughest things right now,” Flowers said. “I have to be more physical. That’s the biggest thing I have to work on right now, but everything else is going good.”
Flowers would have to pick up blocks against large NFL defensive backs and linemen. The Bengals play against the Atlanta Falcons on Sep. 30. in Atlanta. In that game, the 5-foot-10-inch, 214-pound Flowers could find himself blocking former teammate and third-round draft pick Deadrin Senat, who outweighs Flowers by 100 pounds.
That is if Flowers makes the final 53-man roster for the Bengals, which he’ll find out Sep. 1.
Flowers’ switch from college quarterback isn’t unheard of. Former Ohio State quarterback Terelle Pryor was a standout in college. He threw for more than 6,000 yards and 57 touchdowns compared to Flowers’ 8,000-plus passing yards and more than 70 passing touchdowns. Pryor found success as a wide receiver on the Cleveland Browns and will start his seventh season this year.
According to The Athletic, Flowers was scouted by Bengals running back coach Kyle Caskey, who was originally looking at USF running backs Darius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson. Flowers’ self-described “backyard-style” football of running around and making plays caught Caskey’s eyes.
“As I was watching them, he really stood out to me as a runner,” Caskey told The Athletic. “I went to our scouting department and (director of player personnel) Duke Tobin and I said ‘Let’s think outside the box. This kid really is a better runner than a lot of these combine running backs.’”
Even though he is listed as a running back, Flowers saw some action running zone-read plays and trick plays with pass options in his very first week of practices.
His future with the team is uncertain, but Flowers’ main goal is making the final cut.
“I told him just to make the team,” Caskey told The Athletic. “We’ll find out what exactly his position is some other time.”
For Flowers, the driving factor is his family. He lost both his mother and father before he graduated from high school, his brother three years after that, and he elected to miss the 2018 Shrine Game to be with his family after he found out his grandmother passed away.
After experiencing so much heartbreak and hardship, he doesn’t care what position he plays as long as he can provide for his loved ones.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes for my family to be happy and for my life to be better,” Flowers said. “To have my daughter continue her life and do the things she wants to do when she gets older has always been my biggest thing. I just want to make sure everybody in my family smiles.