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Super Bowl: Ex-Wildcat Paul McQuistan vital to Seahawks

Published January 30, 2014 11:23 pm

NFL • Seattle offensive lineman McQuistan is versatile, plays with a little bit of 'nasty.'
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Newark, N.J. • In Oakland, the offensive lineman never really lived up to the expectations and descriptions that stemmed from the 1st Annual Paul McQuistan Haiku Contest.

Yet here he is Super Bowl XLVIII with the Seattle Seahawks, thriving for the closest NFL team to the farm in western Oregon where Weber State discovered him — and his twin.

As the last additions to a family of seven children, Paul and Pat McQuistan helped with the sheep operation and played football for Lebanon High School, 20 miles from the Oregon State campus. Schools in what's now the Pac-12 "can choose ready-made players," said former Weber State coach Jerry Graybeal, and OSU and everybody else at that level overlooked the McQuistans.

From his experience at Eastern Washington, Graybeal knew the Northwest produced players who could succeed in the Big Sky Conference. "Tall, slender, naturally strong … I'd seen that many times before," Graybeal said. "I just thought these two brothers had a chance."

That proved true in Ogden and beyond. Since finishing their Wildcat careers in 2005, former coach Ron McBride's first season, the McQuistans have played eight years in the NFL for a variety of teams. Weber State was the biggest college program to offer them scholarships, and the twins have distinguished their school as pro football players.

"If you work hard and you're afforded the right opportunity, you can go pretty much anywhere you want to go," Paul McQuistan said.

The brothers were "always together" in Ogden, McBride said, and usually could be found in the weight room. They were known for asking Eric Hohn, WSU's former strength and conditioning coach, to unlock the doors in the evenings so they could do extra lifting.

In interviews this week, Paul McQuistan was so shy and soft-spoken that it was difficult to picture him as the football player Graybeal described. "Paul was nasty," he said, remembering his tendency to commit penalties for blocking after the whistle. "He was famous for setting the tone quite early in games."

The Oakland Raiders drafted Paul in the third round (Dallas took Pat in the seventh round). Raiders fans believed the feisty player would fit in well with the team. A group organized the Haiku Contest, evoking tributes such as "Mullet maned war god" and "Flame headed field ox."

But after starting the first six games of his rookie season, McQuistan never quite established himself with the team, amid injuries. Oakland released him in the middle of his fourth year.

McQuistan also played for Jacksonville and Cleveland before joining the Seahawks in 2011. He became valuable this season with his experience and versatility, as injuries took three starting linemen out of the lineup. "We've asked him to do a lot of things," said Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

That included filling in at left tackle, which is "not his specialty," Bevell said. McQuistan struggled in a Monday night game against St. Louis, personally allowing at least two of the Rams' seven sacks. Seattle's offense produced only 135 total yards in a 14-9 victory.

But he played well at tackle in a victory over Tampa Bay that Graybeal, now a WSU fund-raiser, witnessed in Seattle. McQuistan has contributed significantly during the playoffs at left guard, his best position.

Seattle's depth chart lists McQuistan as the backup to James Carpenter, who missed the NFC divisional playoff win over New Orleans with an injury. Carpenter started against San Francisco in the NFC championship game, but McQuistan played a lot and is expected to do so Sunday vs. Denver.

McQuistan would become only the third former Weber State player to get on the field in the Super Bowl. Jamie Martin was the most recent ex-Wildcat to dress for the game, as St. Louis' backup quarterback 12 years ago in a loss to New England. Alfred Pupunu is the last Big Sky product to score in the Super Bowl, catching a two-point pass in San Diego's loss to San Francisco 19 years ago.

Weber State's most distinguished alumnus in Super Bowls is cornerback Darryl Pollard, who started for San Francisco in the second of the 49ers' consecutive victories, 24 years ago vs. Denver.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Weber State in the Super Bowl

History of Weber State players on Super Bowl game-day active rosters:

Bowl Player Pos. Team Result

XXIII Darryl Pollard DB San Fran San Fran 20, Cincinnati 16

XXIV Darryl Pollard DB San Fran San Fran 55, Denver 10

XXIX Alfred Pupunu TE San Diego San Fran 49, San Diego 26

XXXVI Jamie Martin QB St. Louis New England 20, St. Louis 17 —

Super Bowl XLVIII

O Seattle vs. Denver

Sunday, 4:30 p.m.

TV • Ch. 13