Texans’ small school guys hope to prove worth

Texans’ small school guys hope to prove worth
May 12, 2013, 9:00 am
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Nobody wanted Alan Bonner. Nobody wanted David Quessenberry.

Until now.

While plenty of their new Texans teammates were courted heavily during the latter years of their high school careers, Bonner and Quessenberry barely got a look from major schools and never got offers.

Quessenberry ended up at San Jose State and Bonner played for Jacksonville State, two schools not exactly known for producing top-notch NFL talent. But both made the most of their opportunities and were selected by the Texans in the sixth round of the NFL draft.

Nobody wanted them then, but now, they’re in the NFL.

“It’s not where you play ball, it’s what you do when you get out there,” Bonner said. “If you produce when you get out there, they’ll recognize it.”

Quessenberry was the Texans’ first pick in the sixth round of the draft. They even moved up a few slots to take the 6-5, 302-pound offensive tackle from San Jose State.

The left tackle had a solid career for the San Jose State Spartans of the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly 1-A). He played in 49 games and started 37 after being a walk-on following high school. He was a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, which honors the top FBS player who began his career as a non-scholarship athlete.

Quessenberry was a high school tight end in the San Diego area. He didn’t receive one scholarship offer to play collegiate football. The only offer he got was to become a walk-on for the Spartans. As a high school senior with big dreams, that was hard to swallow.

“Obviously, you work so hard to take your talents to the next level and it doesn’t happen, it’s disappointing,” Quessenberry said. “But when you get the opportunity to play and be a walk-on, tryout, that’s what football’s about, to make the most of these opportunities and just to go out and work hard every day.”

Football wasn’t a very hard decision for Quessenberry. Football is a family affair. “It’s kind of in our blood, I guess,” he said. His father, David Sr., played football for Navy. His mom was a cheerleader and his youngest brother, Scott, a center, just committed to UCLA.

And the middle Quessenberry brother, Paul, plays for Navy as a defensive end. David and Paul even lined up against each other when San Jose State played Navy in September. David said it’s a game and experience the whole family will never forget.

His family has been supportive throughout his football career. They watched the toll it took on Quessenberry when he wasn’t heavily recruited and that has made his success that much sweeter. It also changed the way the new Texan plays football. He said he plays with a chip on his shoulder.  

“It’s just something that’s a part of me,” Quessenberry said. “It’s not something I’m constantly thinking about. You play this game with a purpose to go out there to win. You practice to win and you play to win and that’s what it’s about. To me, that’s what a chip on the shoulder means. You don’t go out here and go through the motions. You don’t come out here to take a practice off. You come out here to bust your butt and earn it.”

Bonner said he plays with a chip on his shoulder too. But it must be a small one, because Bonner’s not very big. He’s listed at 5-10, 193, and his lack of size was a detriment to his college chances.

As a high school student at Newnan High School in Georgia – Alec Ogletree, who was a first-round pick of the Rams, was his teammate – his size prevented big-time schools from recruiting him.

But even with his lack of size, Bonner was set to go to a Division 1 school on a scholarship but he said the UAB Blazers took their offer off the table weeks before signing day.

“I had to fall back on what I had,” said Bonner, who said he wasn’t too disappointed. He also added that the scholarship’s being taken away added to his drive to be successful. He used that as motivation.

And he became pretty darn good.

During his senior season in college, he led his team with 50 catches, 859 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He ranks second on the school’s all-time career receiving yards (1,986) and receiving touchdowns (20) lists.

“It’s just a starting block for the smaller schools, especially Jacksonville State,” Bonner said. “Hopefully I can get a lot of other guys inspired to push hard and work for what they want to go to.”

Bonner became just the ninth player from Jacksonville State to ever be drafted and he’s the first one to be taken since the Chiefs took DB Darrell Malone in the sixth round (162) of the 1991 draft.

Since Bonner’s been drafted, he said he’s been trying to represent his school the best he can and has been getting plenty of calls from former teammates and those associated with the school.

While Bonner and Quessenberry talked about playing with a chip on their shoulders, head coach Gary Kubiak said he doesn’t really see much of a difference between the smaller school guys and the ones from college football powerhouses.

“I think once they get out here, they’re all players and the first thing you’re looking for as a coach is the ability to play in our league,” Kubiak said.

See, in the NFL, they’re just like all the rest of the players – big school or not. And, really, that’s all they’ve ever wanted.