Quintin Patilla -N- the Players Corner (A Fresh Start)

At 24 years old, Flint native Quintin Patilla is well-seasoned and ready to resume a football career sidelined by distractions.

After overcoming the personal problems that cut short his college football stints at the University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University, he now is playing middle linebacker for the Evansville Rage in the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL).

Patilla enjoys every minute of the experience. He’s the captain of the team.

“When I got this opportunity and I knew I still had it in me, I’m like, I got to do it because it isn’t going to happen again. I’m 24 and I’m not getting any younger,” said Patilla.

“I’m not nothing how I was before, so I have to do it now and I have to go all the way hard and it isn’t any quit in me. It’s been fun, but it’s been a rough journey, though.”

Playing for the Rage, Patilla is paid by the game, with free housing and breakfast provided daily. He earns every penny with his fierce style and determination.

“He had a little bit of a rough start because indoor football is a lot different than outdoor. But for the past two or three weeks, I think he’s been the best middle linebacker in the league now,” Rage Coach Mike Goodpaster said. “He’s got a lot of talent with his ability to stop the run, he has a high level of energy and he’s always getting after it, playing at 100 percent.”

In his most recent game on Sunday, April 15, Patilla racked up a season-high 12 tackles and a pass defended versus the Chicago Pythons. Evansville won the game, 39-29. Patilla has been credited this season for 28 tackles, one interception, and six passes defended, despite being placed on the injured reserve list – missing the first two games.

Just a few months ago, it didn’t seem possible for Patilla to be effective on the gridiron again.

Finding himself

Personal problems had dragged down the once-heralded football talent. “I had to go find myself and get back in tune with myself, because I think a lot of that college life and being away from family life turned me into a different person,” said Patilla. “I just was messed up and doing dumb stuff here and there, and I had to get mature and get on my own and stop trying to live like a little kid from Flint, when I’m not.”

Leaving Flint Carman Ainsworth in 2006, Patilla was listed as the sixth-best player in the state of Michigan by Rivals.com. He earned a football scholarship to attend the University of Michigan, but spent only two years in the Wolverines program. Patilla redshirted his freshman campaign and was hit with a misdemeanor assault-and-battery charge for his role in a fight with teammate Robert Thornbladh at Touchdown Cafe in Ann Arbor in March 2007 against a 25-year-old local man.

“I was at the bar being stupid and young,” Patilla reflected on the incident. “The guy tried to press charges on me, but he hit me first and it was self-defense for me. I didn’t start it. He was so persistent in trying to get me in trouble, like I was going to the league and he was going to get some big money out of me. “He tried to take me to small claims court twice, but the judges just threw it out and laughed at him. I haven’t heard from him in like three years, so I’m not worried about him.”

The charges were later dropped, but Patilla was suspended four games by then head coach Lloyd Carr. He struggled to find a spot back in the fullback rotation once he returned. Patilla then shifted to Grand Valley State University after the season, but was forced to sit out in 2008 due to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s transfer rules. He suited up for the Lakers in 2009 but didn’t finish out the season.
He caught the swine flu midway through the year and grew fed up with his surroundings with just six games under his belt.

Depression started to invade his life; he began to lose weight and stopped showing up for all football-related functions for the team.

No more games

Patilla thought that using alcohol and partying could help lift his depression. But a construction job in South Bend, Ind., is what put Patilla back on the right path. He randomly sent an application to the company – which paid $30 an hour – and moved alone to South Bend for almost a year and a half, cutting off all ties with nearly everyone around him.

“I just found a place, and I wanted to go somewhere where I didn’t know anybody and didn’t nobody know me and I could just go work on myself,” Patilla explained. “I was real serious about that. I didn’t want to come back to Flint and still have the wrong mentality. I didn’t want to go sit around on some college campus and not be taking any college classes, so I was like, I need to go do something.”

Long hours of heavy labor had gotten him back into shape when the indoor football opportunity fell in his lap. Football scout Clayton Banner discovered Patilla’s profile on Europlayers.com, and he contacted the ex-Wolverine. Banner linked up Patilla with the Rage and everything fell into place.

The new team has put Patilla’s priorities back in order. Teams in the Canadian Football League as well as a few other international franchises are looking at him.

“I’m doing it all on my own, and I know I’m about to make bigger moves, but it’s a process,” said Patilla. “I’m not really in a rush to have it all right now, but my confidence is sky-high.”

The Evansville Rage (3-2) will host the Indianapolis Enforcers at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, on the Clarion Inn Field at Swonder Ice Arena.

“He’s an overcomer and I think right now he has his eyes on the prize,” said Tawana Branch, Patilla’s mother. “He’s looking forward to furthering his football career and he’s having fun.”

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