Quentin Jammer

Former Longhorn safety Earl Thomas will be suiting up for the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday as they face off against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

When Super Bowl XLVIII concludes on Sunday, at least one former Longhorn defensive player will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. 

This year’s game features Seattle’s Earl Thomas against Denver’s Michael Huff and Quentin Jammer, continuing a tradition in which a former Longhorn has made it to the Super Bowl every year since 2007. 

Texas junior cornerback Quandre Diggs, who is Jammer’s younger brother, is excited for the matchup and to see the trio represent Texas as “Defensive Back University.”

“It means a lot just to know that pretty much every year for a long time there has been a DB in that game,” Diggs said. ”No matter who wins, we know a DB will get the Super Bowl.”

 

Earl Thomas, safety:

Thomas was drafted No. 14 overall by the Seahawks in the 2010 NFL draft, following a sensational redshirt sophomore season in which he was a Jim Thorpe Award finalist.

Thomas is regarded by many to be the best safety in the NFL and is a crucial piece in the Seahawks’ secondary. If the Seahawks are going to win, they will need their defense to step up, which means Thomas playing at a high level. Though it wouldn’t be a surprise if he makes a game-changing play, Thomas is focused on just doing the little things right.

“You see a lot of guys that aren’t tackling as well; they’re not doing as well as they started,” Thomas said. “That’s what it’s all about — sticking to your core beliefs, sticking to who you are and everything else will take care of itself.”

Of the three Longhorns in the game, Thomas has the most potential to decide the game with a decisive interception or pass breakup.

 

Michael Huff, safety:

Huff was drafted seventh overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2006 NFL draft, following the 2005 season, in which he became Texas’ first Thorpe Award winner while helping the Longhorns to their first national title in 35 years.

Huff’s best season was in 2010 when he recorded career-highs in tackles, sacks, forced fumbles and interceptions en route to being named a second-team All-Pro safety. He spent his first seven seasons in Oakland before being cut in March 2013, he was later picked up by the Ravens before being cut again mid-season. Now Huff is on the verge of winning the Super Bowl, having been picked up by the Broncos in November. With the humbling experience of losing in Oakland behind him, he realizes the need to seize the moment now.

“Those years in Oakland, getting cut by two teams this year,” Huff said. “To know nothing but winning in college, struggle for seven years and never even get to the playoffs, all of those losing seasons, just makes what I’m feeling right now extra special.”

 

Quentin Jammer, cornerback:

Jammer was drafted fifth overall in 2002 by the San Diego Chargers, after being named a unanimous All-American in 2001.

In 2009, Jammer was named to the Chargers’ 50th anniversary team as a cornerback. After 11 seasons with San Diego, the Broncos picked him up and he is now primarily cornerback Champ Bailey’s backup. Like Huff, Jammer probably won’t have much impact in the game, though he should see some important playing time.

“I am excited to be able to share it with him and go up there and be by his side through the rest of the weekend and hope they go out and get the win,” Diggs said.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

While Andre the Giant stood at 7-foot-4-inches. “Quandre the Giant” — as junior defensive back Quandre Diggs likes to be known — stands at just 5-foot-10-inches.

Size difference aside, the defensive back has become one of Texas’ strongest defensive players in his three years on the 40 Acres. Whether it’s his ability, work ethic or
desire, Diggs earned his reputation because of his attitude and fearless nature. 

“Quandre has a passion for the game,” senior cornerback Carrington Byndom said. “He is going to play hard every snap and every down.”

Diggs plays with a consistent chip on his shoulder, occasionally using negative attention and criticism as motivation. Diggs likes to prove people wrong.  

“He’s just a player,” Byndom said. “He’s trying to go out there, and he’s trying to prove a point. If you want to say it’s a chip on his shoulder then there it is. I guess you can call it that.”

Teammates gravitate toward Diggs’ outspoken personality, which has established him as an unquestioned team leader. When Greg Robinson took over the defensive play-calling duties from Manny Diaz, head coach Mack Brown and his staff went to Diggs to convince the players to buy into the new coach. 

“He’s one of the guys that [defensive backs coach] Duane [Akina] would bring in and say ‘We need your help. You have a voice on this team,’” Brown said. “‘You and Adrian Phillips are the two they are going to listen to. So here’s what we need, and here’s what we need you to do.’ He has really taken that role and stepped up and have been key to getting this team back on top.”

One of Diggs’ role models is his brother Quentin Jammer, who was a safety for Texas from 1997-2001 and currently plays for the Denver Broncos after 11 years with the San Diego Chargers. Jammer, who will be inducted into the Texas Hall of Honor this Friday, continues to teach Diggs even while he’s in college. 

“I couldn’t even point out one specific thing because he’s taught me so much,” Diggs said. “He’s a father figure to me even though he’s my brother. Words can’t describe all the things my brother has done for me. I’m thankful to have a brother like him in my life.”

The pair are similar in stature and their impact on the field, but Brown said Diggs has a much larger leadership role than his brother did.

“Quandre is a much better communicator than Quentin was,” Brown said. “Quandre talks all the time. He’s very positive and upbeat. Quandre is in the middle of that defense and really leading a lot. Quentin wouldn’t have said much. That’s the biggest difference between them.”

Diggs may not be the largest Longhorn in stature, but no one on the team would dispute his nickname. The fleet-footed, sharp-tongued junior stands nothing short of a giant. 

Junior Quandre Diggs outruns a TCU defender last season. Diggs could impact Texas at many different positions.

Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

Quandre Diggs could catch a football about as soon as he could walk. 

He didn’t grow up around an especially lenient sports crowd, either. Digg’s brother Quentin Jammer, a cornerback for the San Diego Chargers, began tossing footballs at his little brother around age five, Jammer told the Austin American-Statesman in an interview.

Diggs was clearly influenced by the drive and success of his older brother. Jammer was an All-American defensive back at Texas, and the position he holds in San Diego is the same position Diggs has assumed as a Longhorn. 

“I’ve been around this place for a long time,” Diggs said as a freshman. “I grew up being a Texas fan ever since I was little. It’s great and it’s something you dream about your whole life.” 

Ready to embark upon the dream he’d envisioned for so long, Diggs enrolled early at Texas to get a feel for the playbook. He also excited fellow signees, reaching out before they’d all arrived on campus.

“I think he had an impact on holding [his] class together because he is such a leader,” head coach Mack Brown said. “He would email and call the guys and talk to them. Every time I would talk to somebody, they would say, ‘Quandre said this.’”

Upon arriving on the Forty Acres, Diggs didn’t hold back in practice. He started 11 games and played in all 13 during his freshman year, earning a slew of awards including CBSSports.com Freshman All-American and Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. 

Diggs was equally aggressive as a sophomore, starting all 13 games and leading the team in interceptions and pass breakups. But the Houston native may not be safe in his role as a cornerback. At least, not while Texas needs a safety.

With the departure of Kenny Vaccaro, the need to fill the slot is especially imminent. Vaccaro was a top tackler of a Texas defense that often failed to impress and execute in 2012. 

But that, according to Brown, may be where Diggs’s versatility as a player can slide in. 

“Quandre Diggs can play safety,” Brown said. “He can play corner. When Adrian [Phillips] was out some of the bowl practice, Quandre got a good week at safety in there.”

Brown said assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina is working with players to compile a lineup that makes sense.

Defensive coordinator/linebacker coach Manny Diaz said the team is not far enough along in spring practice to pinpoint who will jump in at safety, but the players are keeping flexible. 

“It was important coming into the spring to let everybody have confidence in terms of their base of knowledge so that they could just go play football,” Diaz said. “We have to find the best football players, and then we will figure out where to stick them.”

Wherever Diggs lands in the secondary, he still has time to make an impact and continue to live his childhood dream.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Quandre Diggs loves to talk trash. But, with talking trash comes the responsibility to live up to it.

Diggs believes he is ready to do just that against Oklahoma on Saturday.

During the Red River Rivalry last season, the Sooners scored the first four times they had the ball. Landry Jones had three touchdown passes and Dominique Whaley added a 64-yard touchdown scamper.

Those numbers don’t sit well with Diggs. He’s grown up a lot and, as a sophomore, feels he is more prepared for this game than he was as a freshman last season.

“Last year when I went out and the crowd was split fifty-fifty it was something that I had never seen before,” Diggs said. “You go past the fifty-yard line and what you get before you pass the fifty yard line is all boos.  As soon as you cross that fifty it’s all yelling ‘Texas fight.”

Last year Diggs wasn’t as mentally prepared as he should have been. Though the Red River Rivalry is a unique game and environment, the Texas defense has been struggling through four games this year. The Longhorns have been attributing a lot of their struggles to a lack in mental preparedness, not physical issues.

The missed tackles, huge rushing yards given up and big plays accumulated by opposing offenses have plagued the defense so far this season. Texas is currently ninth in rushing defense and seventh in total defense in the Big 12.

That kind of defense simply won’t work against the Sooners.

“Guys just have to go out and just have to be mentally prepared and mentally focused,” Diggs said. “It’s hard just to be physically and mentally in shape for that. It’s something I learned as a freshman last year.”

Diggs called his brother, San Diego Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer, before the game last year so he would know what to expect. But Diggs said nothing could have prepared him for the environment in the Cotton Bowl.

Jammer is quiet compared to Diggs, but the two are both extremely competitive.

“I’m a guy that gets riled up and likes to go out and talk,” Diggs said. “Me and him have two different personalities but at the same time we just try to go out and compete as hard as we can.”

This year, not being mentally prepared for the crimson and orange split won’t be a factor for Diggs. He thrives in that kind of chaotic environment and will push the defense to do so as well.

Even though he was only freshman last year, he became a leader for the team. Being a defensive back, Diggs has learned that sometimes players will get the best of you, just like Oklahoma did last year. But, bouncing back from those experiences is important.

“He is such a baller and very competitive,” co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said. “He is one of those guys that is like, ‘You got your shot in, but I am going to win the battle’ or ‘I am going to win the war even if you won that battle.”

The Sooners got their shot in last year in their 55-17 rout of Texas, but Diggs and the defense will look to improve upon how they’ve been performing so far this season and stop the Oklahoma offense Saturday.

“We’re a year older, a year smarter and a year wiser so whatever the game plan is we’re just going to go along with it and go out there and make plays that we didn’t make last year,” Diggs said. “I promise you I’ll be a lot more comfortable this year than I was last year.”

Football

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