David Quessenberry called me as he was driving back from skeet shooting at Camp Pendleton with his dad and was contemplating going surfing later in the day. That's just a snapshot of Quessenberry.
We discussed his career at San Jose State and how he got there, his varied athletic background, and his close-knit family.
Peter Smith: How did you end up at San Jose State?
David Quessenberry: I wasn’t really recruited out of high school. San Jose was the only school that really offered me a chance to play as a preferred walk-on. Coach (Dick) Tomey was the head coach at the time.
At first, I was going to be a normal walk-on; I got accepted to the school, I was going to go up there and enroll in classes and then walk on after camp was over with the other walk-ons.
But coach Tomey, he watched my tape; he saw the player that I could become, he saw the potential, and dropped me a preferred walk-on spot. So, I came in with the other guys to camp and I made the most of my opportunity.
PS: What does it mean to you that went from a 6’6”, 230-pound senior in high school and walk-on to an NFL Draft caliber offensive lineman? Do you carry that with you when you’re on the field?
DQ: I think it’s changed the way I play from Day 1. Walking on, having a chip on my shoulder in everything I did. In the weight room, the film room, on the field, at practice, in the class room; I was always trying to be the best or make the most improvement in everything I did. And I think that has a lot to do with me walking on.
PS: A lot of people first really got to know you at the Senior Bowl. What was your attitude going into that week and what was your attitude coming out?
DQ: Going into the Senior Bowl my attitude was ‘Take no prisoners’. I was also really excited. I was excited to play football again because during the season I had a high ankle sprain that nagged me the whole time.
I was getting treatment, I was practicing the whole week and playing games on it and it never really got better. But then I had some time to rest it , time to get off my feet before the Senior Bowl and I was feeling great. I think what people saw was a healthy me at 100 percent and playing well. So, I was excited and going into the game I knew I was feeling 100 percent and I knew I was going to impress people down there.
PS: You played 27 straight games in a row. Did the high ankle sprain finally make you miss one?
DQ: Exactly. That was the one. I would have played but my trainer advised me it would be a bad decision for the long run for the team.
PS: What was your reaction when you heard NFL Network Draft Analyst Mike Mayock having positive things to say about you on the televised draft coverage?
DQ: I was excited. He’s probably one of the toughest critics out there. Hearing him say some good things, it definitely fired me up when I heard that. It motivated me even more.
PS: Break down your game.
DQ: A technician. A guy with great technique. Fundamental football player and a guy who straps up and brings it every play. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first play or the last play of the game. Every snap, I’m giving 100 percent. That’s what I bring to the table.
PS: I couldn’t help but notice how much stress you and your teammate Ryan Otten put on technique and how early it came up. How much was that stressed at San Jose State?
DQ: Yea, it’s stressed a lot at our program, but I think good players in general understand that technique is really what separates players. When you get to this level, every play is a pretty big, strong, good athlete, but the guys with the best technique and the best fundamentals are the guys that are really gonna succeed.
PS: Where do you feel like you can contribute on the offensive line?
DQ: You name it, I can contribute there. All five spots on the line. There’s not one that I can’t play and there’s not one I don’t want to play. I want to play them all; wherever I can be a top five lineman for any team, that’s where I want to play. I think the best five linemen should play whether I’m a left tackle or center. It doesn’t matter.
PS: Do you feel like you have any limitations in scheme or fit?
DQ: No, I don’t. I think I’m a good offensive lineman. I’m a good fit for a power running scheme or a zone scheme. It doesn’t matter. I know I can play wherever.
PS: Where is your weight now and where are you hoping to get it by camp?
DQ: I’m 305 right now. I’ve been putting on weight since the end of the season. I’m about 305 now walking around. And for camp, I want to be between 305 to 310.
PS: Talk about growing up surfing and playing lacrosse and how that helps you as you go to the NFL?
DQ: I think it’s important for guys to play lots of sports when they are younger, growing up, because that helps your athleticism and adds to your knowledge. That just helps in everything you do.
Lacrosse was real interesting because it was really hard; we did a lot of running. It’s completely different than football as far as the nonstop action, so that definitely helped me when it came to my conditioning, my quickness and breaking down technique. Lacrosse is all about technique. That definitely helped me.
Surfing is something I grew up doing and still do to this day. The waves are looking good today. I think I may paddle out a little later. And that’s something I’ll keep doing long after I’m done playing football.
PS: Was there any consideration or offers to play lacrosse in college?
DQ: Yeah, West coast teams, so it was mostly club lacrosse. No real NCAA. If you want to play NCAA lacrosse, you gotta go back East. I think I made the right choice in picking football as what I wanted to pursue after high school.
PS: Talk about growing up with a father who is a captain in the Navy.
DQ: It’s great. We just left Camp Pendleton. We did some skeet shooting at the shotgun shooting range, so we’re in the car driving back right now. It’s been good; grew up with things like discipline, which transitions directly to football.
PS: Your brother (Paul Quessenberry) plays football at the Naval Academy and plays football as a linebacker. Did you consider the Navy and what was it like playing against your brother this year?
DQ: I wanted to continue playing football and Navy, I didn’t have a chance to play football at Navy. It is what it is. Playing against him was definitely a once in a lifetime moment; it was real special, especially for my family. It’s something we’ll have together. Just playing in that stadium itself, Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium is a special place. And to play against your brother is something I’ll hold with me for a long time.
PS: The big question is did you get to go up against him personally?
DQ: Yes, we went head to head for about 20-25 plays throughout the whole game. We didn’t let him get an inch of lee-way. We double teamed him, we went head to head, we chipped him with the running back, we definitely got after him. He wasn’t coming away there feeling good about getting our quarterback.
PS: So are you saying you needed help to stop your brother?
DQ: (laugh) I could do it myself. You know that defense Navy runs, that 3-4 defense with the 2 high safeties, so they don’t really bring as much pressure as some other teams, so it opens up the door for a little more double teams, but I could have handled him myself.
PS: Your family is part of a project with kids from the Chernobyl disaster. Talk about what your family is doing and the impact it has had on you.
DQ: Yea, the Children of Chernobyl was a great program. We had a kid, Sergei Kaptiga, he came over for 10 years. Basically from the time he was 8 years old, he came over every summer until he was 18 and he couldn’t get a Visa over here. It definitely changed my life, changed my family’s life, just looking at the world through a different lens and definitely appreciating what a great country we live in.
PS: Who do you look up to in the NFL?
DQ: There are definitely a few guys I like watching play. I used to really like watching Kyle Turley play. He had a good career, came out of San Diego State, got tossed around the league. I really like watching San Francisco’s left tackle, Joe Staley, Miami’s old offensive tackle Jake Long, and Joe Thomas.
PS: More satisfying for you: a pancake block that helps your running back get into the end zone or shutting down a pass rusher?
DQ: Definitely when they give up because then you know you’ve won that game. You’ve broken them down, kept that defensive player and then they’ll walk away from that game shaking their head like “Man, that guy was good and I respect that guy” and I think at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about.
PS: Speaking of pass protection, what do you think of quarterback David Fales and what do you expect from him next year and beyond?
DQ: I think everybody saw what kind of quarterback he was this past year. He’s an impressive kid, he’s a leader, he’s a heck of a ball player, and I expect him to lead that team this year and have the same kind of season that he had and to get drafted real high. He’s definitely an NFL-caliber kid and I can’t wait to see him lead the team this year.
PS: How about your teammate and a guy you lined up next to this year on more than a few occasions in tight end Ryan Otten?
DQ: Me and Ryan are good buddies, we’ve been going through this process together. We signed with the same agency, we’ve been training, we were roommates at the Senior Bowl, roommates in college. We’re definitely going to be friends for a long time. He’s a stud. He’s a great player. He was a leader on our team, he was a big time playmaker. I think he’s going to have a long career, whatever he does, he’s gonna be a franchise player for some team who picks him up this year.
PS: What was it like training with Jackie Slater?
DQ: I trained with Jackie. Jackie’s awesome. He’s a Hall of Famer. You get to work with a Hall of Famer every day. That’s something that you take advantage. We made the most out of every day. I learned a lot from him moving forward. It wasn’t just about technique. It was about how to be a Pro, how to be successful in this league and it was definitely good working with him.
PS: I’ll ask you the same thing I asked Ryan. Did you know who he was or did someone have to tell you?
DQ: His son (Matthew Slater) plays for the Patriots and Jackie Slater is not a name that you don’t know. He’s a Hall of Fame guy. Yea, I know who he was.
PS: How do you feel this class has left the San Jose State Program?
DQ: Better; absolutely better -- 180 degrees from where we were a few years ago; we won only three games in two years and then this past year we were 11-2 and Top 25 in the Nation. There’s something to be said for that, there’s something to be said for the senior class and the junior class for that matter; he leadership that we had and the talent and the dedication carried us to where we went.
PS: How do you feel like coach (Ron Carragher) will do leading the SJSU program?
DQ: I think he’s gonna do a great job. He was recruiting my younger brother, Paul, to go to USD (University of San Diego), so my family knows he’s a good guy. He’s a talented coach, he was successful at USD and I went up there I got a chance to go to watch Spring ball and they were getting after it. He’s coaching them up right with the new coaching staff and I’m excited what he and the Spartans do in 2013.
PS: Any thoughts on coach (Mike) McIntyre as he takes over Colorado?
DQ: He’s gonna do a good job out there. He’s got a great staff surrounding him. He knows what it takes to turn a program around and I think it’s gonna be up to the players to embrace the coaching staff and embrace the way he does things and he’ll be successful. There’s no doubt in my mind.
PS: As disappointing as it is to lose a coach like that, I get the sense from talking to you and talking to Ryan that he left the right way?
DQ: Yea. Obviously, you don’t want to see him go after you’ve been through so much together, but he made his decision and we wish him the best and we thank him for what he did for San Jose.
PS: Talk about an assistant or a coach that has helped you develop through your career.
DQ: That’s a no-brainer; my offensive line coach for the past three years, Gary Bernardi. He’s a great coach.
He taught me a lot about the position, the way it should be played, the technique I should have. We would spend hours watching not just me but other players, watching their style, watching the way they did things and take that into my game.
PS: Why did you pursue a degree in History?
DQ: Because I like history. I definitely wanted to pick a major that I liked and a major that was challenging and a major I was going to get something out of; history was both of those. It was a hard degree to get, but looking back, I’m glad I went that path.
It is difficult not to root for a player like David Quessenberry because of the path he took to get to where he is as well as family and his drive and work ethic. Hopefully he gets every chance to succeed at the next level, but it should not take many for him to catch on and succeed in the NFL.