Martin Quintana: Time at ND teaches Quintana the ‘right manner’
Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, November 11, 2010
This Saturday, senior outside linebacker Martin Quintana will take his last steps onto the field he has worked so hard to find. Then he will trade in his helmet for a briefcase and swap his jersey for a suit, venturing into corporate America in December.
But heading into his last game, the fifth-year senior said he plans nothing different to highlight the significance of his situation.
“As always, I am just going to soak it all in, but this time it’ll be for the last time,” he said. “I always had a dream to play college football and it is definitely something that has defined my time here.”
The walk-on senior graduated last year with a degree in finance, but came back for one more year to earn a degree in Spanish, and, of course, to play football.
“It was very important to me and my heritage to receive this degree,” Quintana said. “I also had one more year of eligibility and I was lucky enough for [Irish coach Brian] Kelly to let me return and be a part of his team.”
Concerning the first-year coach, Quintana had nothing but good things to say, expressing praise and even foresight into where he sees the team going in the future.
“I have no doubt that [Kelly] is going to do big things here with the program,” Quintana said. “I am just glad to say that I am a part of the start of something special.”
But returning to a team with a new coach meant changing positions from defensive end to outside linebacker, something that could have been very intimidating for a walk-on who has not received much playing time.
“My job is to make sure I make the guys out there better and prepare them for Saturday,” Quintana said. “I may not play too much in the game on Saturday, but my games are Monday through Thursday out on the practice field. If you can’t get pumped about that, then you must not love football.”
The fifth-year senior said that the field is where he belongs, especially because of the brotherhood he has formed with the other walk-ons.
“Later on down the road, I am going to remember the relationships that I have formed with all of these guys out here,” he said. “All of us walk-ons love the challenges we face and it’s almost like it is a competition between us during practice.”
Reinforcing one of Kelly’s favorite mottos, Quintana also insists that he owes Notre Dame for what he has accomplished, not the other way around.
“I have grown so much since coming here,” he said. “Playing here is about doing things the right way and conducting yourself in the right manner, all for Notre Dame, our mother.”
Quintana said he would graduate with values that will help him in the future.
“Because of everything that I have been through, there is nothing that someone can put me through that I haven’t experienced before,” Quintana said. “The values that I developed here are what I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
With his bright future coming fast, Quintana had only one thing to say.
“I love this university, but it’s time for me to move on to other things,” he said.
Those other things will result in a gold-plated name on his desk, four years after first seeing his name scribbled onto tape stuck to a gold helmet.