Defining Choices

By Quindell Johnson

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This series is brought to you by United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

For many, college is described as the formidable years of one’s life.

It helps turn you into the person you want to be.

For me, those formidable years started a bit sooner — in high school.

Growing up, I loved playing basketball and football.

Eventually, there came a time when I didn’t just want to play for the “love of it,” though, you know?

I wanted to push myself, be my best, and win.

In order to do so, things needed to change.

During my sophomore year of high school, I was thinking about my future and whether I was heading in the right direction.

I wasn’t ready to give up basketball yet, but I felt like I wasn’t reaching my potential in football.

Playing QB was fun, don’t get me wrong, but I felt like my skill set would be better at defensive back.

It took a lot of courage to walk up to coaches and propose a position change.

After all, I was only a sophomore who didn’t even see much playing time.

What if they took it the wrong way?

What if they said no?

Still, the more I thought about it, the more certain I was that this was the right move.

Luckily, great coaches supported me and made this transition as smooth as possible.

Looking back on it, without a doubt, it was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made — it set me up for where I am today.

It took a lot of heart to go down this path, and I’m so glad I did.

But that wasn’t the only decision during my high school years that really defined my journey.

To really maximize my potential, I had to give up basketball.

I always knew it, but it’s hard to walk away from something you love.

Nonetheless, it had to be done.

So, during my junior year, I stopped playing competitive basketball in the summer and focused on my conditioning and training for football.

The hard work and sacrifice paid off.

I started getting DI offers and ultimately decided to join Memphis.

All these decisions were instrumental to my growth.

Today, I’m very proud of myself for making the right choices and pushing myself to become the best version I can be.

My brother

Going through these transition periods in life can be daunting.

In fact, they are.

Fortunately, I had an incredibly strong support system.

My twin brother, in particular, was with me every step of the way.

From those early days just playing sports for fun to my days here at Memphis — he’s been by my side.

Not many people can say they’ve played with their brother at every level of the game, but I’ve been blessed with that privilege.

When we both signed with Memphis, it was fantastic having him by my side to pick me up, push my buttons, and be a shoulder to lean on.

Friends come and go, but family is forever, and with my brother Kendell by my side, nothing feels impossible.

Leading quietly

I got the nickname ‘Silent Assassin’ because I’m quiet and dominant on the field.

I get noticed by going unnoticed.

I often keep my mouth shut, put my head down, and go to work.

I like to lead by example, you know?

It may not be how the world wants me to be, but it’s who I am.

Everyone notices gameday, but that’s just where the results happen.

The work to get those results happen somewhere else.

Throughout my time here in Memphis, I’ve become a gym rat and a film nerd.

It’s about staying ready, so you don’t have to get ready.

That means staying in the gym, giving your all at practice, and learning off the field so you can perform on the field.

Throughout my life, I’m always looking ahead, and I know if I want to reach my ultimate goal of playing in the NFL, I’ll have to continue pushing myself in all facets so when the opportunity comes, I’m ready to go.

Looking back on it, without a doubt, it was one of the most important decisions I've ever made — it set me up for where I am today. It took a lot of heart to go down this path, and I'm so glad I did.

Not done yet

Like any other senior, I’m excited about the future.

However, my time at Memphis is far from over.

There is still work left to do, and we got games to win.

So, I’m staying focused on the day-to-day, leaving this program on a high note and, hopefully, in an even better place than it was when I started.

That’s what I want my legacy here to be, a great player and an even better leader who took pride in being a Tiger.

But that’s for others to decide.

All I can do is keep being the Silent Assassin and focus on putting my best foot forward each day.

I may not be the most vocal, but I let my character, work ethic, and play speak for themselves.