If you read Succeed in Football regularly, you know I’m a big fan of Michael Quartey, a guy who’s done a lot of things in football (agent, coach, college player) before finally finding his niche running two small all-star games, the FCS and National Bowls, in South Florida.
These games were once scorned as irrelevant evaluation tools strictly for indoor football teams, but that is changing. One reason for that change is new Dolphins starting kicker Andrew Franks, who came to South Florida by way of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. His performance in the practices leading up to the National Bowl, as well as his play in the game, got him noticed by the hometown Dolphins, who brought him in as an undrafted free agent. Here’s a little more about Franks post-National Bowl, and how he climbed the draft ranks on the way to kicking Sunday for the Fins.
In a way, both Franks and Quartey are fighting their way toward a bigger reputation. The National Bowl had 11 NFL teams present this year, many with more than one scout, and five more CFL teams. That’s up from eight NFL teams in 2013.
I asked Michael about Franks and how he wandered into the path of first the National Bowl, then the NFL. Here are a few takeaways from our conversation.
- Franks is the first National Bowl alumnus ever to kick off the season as an NFL starter. “We’ve had a couple guys start the season on practice squads, then get activated mid-season,” Quartey said, “but this is the first time we’ve had an opening-week starter.”
- Franks was nominated by his coach and another key influencer: his aunt. They both reached out to game organizers on Twitter. “We took a look and saw that he had some level of ability,” Quartey said. “His coach told us that some NFL teams were interested, which was a good thing to hear with a DIII kid.”
- Perhaps because he had come from a DIII school, Franks was pretty open to coming to the game. Unlike most games, the National Bowl requires a fee to participate ($595 plus the cost of travel). “His family was pretty aggressive on wanting him to come to the game,” Quartey said. “For a small-school guy, there’s just not a lot of opportunities for events with NFL and CFL scouts, and it was a pleasant surprise that he wanted to come.”
- Since it’s a hometown game, the Dolphins have been big proponents of the National Bowl and its sister game, the FCS Bowl, both run by Quartey. “The Dolphins were one of the first teams to commit to us since we moved to FIU (in December 2013), and they have had 3-4 scouts there from the beginning to now, so they definitely showed us love. They . . .took a look at him, and saw that he had a strong leg, and a bunch of scouts were interested in him.”
- Even after an impressive week at the National Bowl, Quartey was surprised to see Franks win the Dolphins’ job. “Some guys excel and then get that opportunity,” Quartey said, “but you never know once they get to the NFL how they’re going to compete for that roster spot.”