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Quaye takes the long way


Kommonyan Quaye's is not the typical route to the NFL.

Quaye, an undrafted defensive tackle attempting to carve out a place on the Jaguars roster, fled Liberia and its Civil War at age two. He and his older sister were hustled to Paris by their father, who worked at the Liberian embassy in Paris.

"We got on the last flight leaving. It was pretty intense," he said.

Meanwhile, his mother and brother fled Liberia for family in New Jersey, where the Quaye family would reunite a few months later. Quaye's journey then proceeded to Minneapolis, where he became a football star, and then to the University of South Dakota, where the Jaguars found him toiling largely in anonymity.

"I thought this would be the best situation for me to come in and compete and play right away. I talked to coach Cullen and he told me straight how it was gonna be," Quaye said of his decision to sign with the Jaguars.

On the surface, it would appear to be a curious decision. The Jaguars had just used their first four draft picks on defensive linemen, but Quaye explained that top two picks, Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith, are three-technique defensive tackles, whereas Quaye is more of a one-technique tackle. Fifth-round picks Larry Hart and Austen Lane, of course, are defensive ends.

"He said they're trying to rebuild the defensive line. I could make a spot for myself here in Jacksonville," Quaye said of Cullen's recruiting pitch.

The reconstruction of the defensive tackle position began last year with the selection of Terrance Knighton, a one-technique player. Quaye's hope is that he'll earn a spot on the roster as Knighton's backup.

"They want me to play more of a nose guard, one technique. I'm more of a run-stopper, but I've got some pass-rush moves in the repertoire," Quaye said.

At first glance, he appears to be too short. After watching him in action, however, it's clear to see he uses his lack of height to gain leverage against blockers, and that's when Quaye's power takes over.

Quaye, 6-1, 307, runs in the 4.9s. He has long arms and big hands, "which are certainly an asset to playing defensive line," General Manager Gene Smith said.

Smith said the Jaguars had "multiple exposures" on Quaye at South Dakota, where he bench-pressed 225 pounds 35 times at the South Dakota pro day. If it's a rap that he's short, it's the only rap on Quaye.

"It's going good. I'm picking up things real fast," he said.

All of this, of course, began with that flight from fright 20 years ago.

"I'd probably be dead," Quaye said when asked where he'd be today if he hadn't escaped Liberia.

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