Quandre Diggs inspired by brother

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Quandre Diggs, returning a punt against Texas A&M, will play at Qualcomm Stadium, where his older brother and former Longhorns defensive back plays home games for the San Diego Chargers.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Quandre Diggs is used to following in his brother’s footsteps.

The freshman cornerback came to Texas a decade after his older brother, Quentin Jammer, starred with the Longhorns as a defensive back. Diggs is the latest pupil of secondary coach Duane Akina, who mentored Jammer for one year before he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft.

Diggs is familiar with the Texas program: Akina, head coach Mack Brown and co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite all worked with Jammer and was a major reason the freshman chose to play in Austin. He’s also familiar with Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, the site of the 2011 Holiday Bowl, where the Longhorns will take on California on Dec. 28.

“It’s great just to be able to play in the stadium that your older brother plays in,” Diggs said. “It’s the same as here. So hopefully we’ll go out and execute and win the game.”

Diggs typically spends the holiday season in San Diego anyway, where his family gathers to spend time with Jammer and cheer him on as the NFL season winds down.

He’s never been to a bowl game — most of the Longhorns haven’t either — but he’s taken in countless Chargers games over the past 11 years.

“I’ve been to plenty,” Diggs said. “So I know the stadium. I know the ins and outs of the stadium. I know San Diego in and out. I’m excited to be able to go back out there.”

The Angleton native started nine games this season and his team-high three interceptions were the second most for a freshman in school history (Chris Carter had four in 1993).

Diggs was also in the top 10 in tackles (48) and tackles for loss (4), and tied the team lead with two forced fumbles.

But the success is nothing new for Diggs, who was a top recruit in high school and has learned from the game’s best.

Jammer isn’t his only kin that played professionally; cousin Cedric Woodard spent six years in the NFL after starring at UT as a defensive lineman in the late 1990s.

“He’s really grown up in a high profile football family,” Akina said. “He has been around high quality football, so he knows how to prepare, he knows how to train in the off-season. He’s worked out with the best in the world, so he’s not intimidated by anything. For him to come in and learn as quickly as he has is really something.”

But Diggs’ impressive pedigree isn’t the only reason why he’s become one of the Longhorn’s best players. He’s a football junkie with the same love for the game as the young boy who used to beg Jammer and then-roommate Applewhite to play catch with him outside their apartment in Austin a decade ago.

“From the time I met him in first or second grade he’s always had a football in his hand,” Applewhite, who quarterbacked UT to a pair of Holiday Bowls from 2000-01, said. “Always had the latest stats. The latest Sportscenter highlights. He’s always been a gym rat. And he’s continued to be that way as he’s grown up. He’s got an infectious attitude, a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He’s a guy that’s a straight baller.”

Printed on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 as: Diggs to play on brother's home turf