Offers are piled up, representing nearly every top program in college football. On weekends, he’s prowled the sidelines of some of college football’s most storied venues. Friday nights are spent blowing open holes in defensive lines and flattening opposing defenders for one of the top five teams in the state.
It’s good to be Quinn Carroll right now.
The 6-6, 290-pound junior offensive tackle for Edina is the most coveted football recruit to come out of Minnesota since Cretin-Derham Hall’s Seantrel Henderson was labeled the No. 1 recruit in the country in 2010.
“And it’s hard to say he shouldn’t be rated higher than Henderson,” said Kyle Goblirsch, recruiting analyst for 247 Sports and Gopher Illustrated. “He’s certainly in the same conversation.”
The list of Carroll’s college offers is a Who’s Who of college football nobility: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Louisiana State, Miami, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC and 10 of the 14 Big Ten schools, including the Gophers. He has 31 FBS offers, with more expected.
“I never thought in a million years I would get offers from schools like that,” Carroll said with incredulity tinting his voice. “My goal, since fourth grade, was always just to play college football somewhere.”
That is no surprise, considering his bloodline. His father, Jay, was a tight end at the University of Minnesota and played in the NFL for the Vikings and Buccaneers in the 1980s. Older brother Collin was a long snapper at Virginia Tech. Football flows through the Carroll family veins.
“I’ve been around football all my life,” Carroll said. “My dad coached us in youth football. Picture me, as a newborn, going to my older brother’s practice because my dad would take me along. On Sundays, there’s nothing better than going outside during halftime and throwing the ball around. It’s what we do.”
Those Sundays playing catch are some of the few times Carroll actually gets to touch a football. With his size, he’s been tabbed to play on the line since the first time he put on pads.
“I’ve always been bigger than most kids. I was a black-striper,” he said, referring to the youth football practice of putting a stripe of tape on the helmet of players too large to carry the football. “When I was in seventh and eighth grade, I was a little pudgy. Then in ninth grade, I started to fill into my body and become more athletic.”
At a recent Edina football game, a visitor to the press box asked innocently, “Which one is Carroll?” which was met with head-shaking and bemused chuckles. Even on a football field, where big is normal, Carroll stands out.
“That’s one of the things colleges like about me,” he said. “I pass the eye test. Some guys, if they say they’re 6-6, 290, they might actually be 6-4, 275 and not very muscular. They see that I really am 6-6, 290.”
What sets Carroll apart from other big fellas is his unique combination of athleticism and strength, with a high football IQ to boot.
“He’s the best lineman I’ve ever coached. Great feet, great drive, great determination,” Edina coach Derrin Lamker said. “And he’s very intelligent. He gets football.”
There are times, Lamker said, when he’s amazed at the things Carroll does on the field.
“A couple of times he’s blocked someone on one side of the field, then buried someone on the other side because the play wasn’t over,” Lamker said. “Our kid doubled back and scored. You can tell he loves playing the position.”
Goblirsch said Carroll’s affinity for line play shows through on video and is what separates him from other prospects.
“His feet, his hands, his technique are all great,” Goblirsch said. “I’ve seen times where he’s launched linebackers off their feet. He wants to dominate as an offensive lineman.”
Most linemen harbor a secret dream to one day carry the football, even score a touchdown. Carroll is the exception. He’s satisfied with the role he plays.
“The glory for me is to watch my teammates celebrate after a touchdown because of a block I made,” he said. “When you get out there and lay a hit and watch your running back run down sidelines, I get butterflies. I get goose bumps. It’s what I live for.”
Carroll became a starter in ninth grade and was a standout last year for Edina, which is ranked No. 5 in Class 5A and begins the postseason hosting Burnsville on Friday. It wasn’t until last summer, however, that the offers started rolling in.
“I went into the offseason hoping to attend a few more camps than just Minnesota and hopefully get an offer or two in a few weeks,” he said. “I got six offers just locally and that really spun everything up.”
He can’t take official visits until spring, but he and his family have made numerous unofficial trips this fall. He was on the sidelines to see USC and UCLA in Los Angeles on consecutive nights over Labor Day weekend. He’s been on the field to see Oklahoma win at Ohio State. Last Saturday, he saw Notre Dame crush USC.
His plan is to take his five official visits, then make a college decision before the start of his senior year so the recruitment process doesn’t interfere with his final high school football season. He’s in no rush to commit. He’s having too much fun.
“Every day, I wonder, ‘How is this happening to me?’ ” he said. “I’m so thankful for the things I’ve been given, for this life and for my family and friends. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”