BIRMINGHAM — Recruiting spiels aren't always framed the same.
What did the UAB coaches use to sell offensive lineman Quez Yates on coming to Birmingham? The weather in Logan, Utah.
"Funny story," Yates said. "People don't know this. When I came on my visit to UAB, I was committed to Utah State. They told me when I would have got off the plane at Utah State, it would have been like 15 degrees. Coach (Bryant) Vincent called and told me. They wanted me to come here for the visit (instead of a scheduled visit to Utah State). I didn't go to Utah State. I ended up coming here."
Now he's an integral part of the offensive line that is being pieced together by UAB offensive line coach Eddie Gordon. It hasn't been an easy spring for the UAB offensive line. Injuries, most of them the nagging variety, have changed the course of what the Blazers want to get done upfront. And the season-ending Achilles tendon injury suffered by right guard Zaire Flournoy, who was having a magnificent spring practice, was hard to get past.
"It's been chaotic if I'm going, to be honest," the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Yates said.
Yates has spent his football life, at least on the offensive side, at tackle. He played the position, along with defensive tackle, at Crystal Springs High in Mississippi. He played it at Jones Community College. He played it last year during a redshirt season at UAB. He played it when spring practice began in early March.
So, there was an obvious question when it was suggested that he give offensive guard a shot.
"I asked why," Yates said with a laugh.
He never said if he got an answer but was clear about his current feeling on the move.
"After the second and third day of really working guard, I fell in love with it," said Yates, who lines up at left guard, in between center Brady Wilson and left tackle Will Parker, on the first offensive line. "I really started to like playing inside. Tackle, you're more on an island. You're by yourself. You got to work more technique. When you're at guard, it's more who's the better man inside. That's probably the simplest way to put it."
The details were different, but Yates also had to adapt when moving from high school to junior. Yates left high school weighing 240 pounds, which is fine for a high school tackle, especially an athletic one but doesn't often work so well at the next level. Yates said he had trouble adding weight in high school because he played basketball and baseball and ran track in addition to football.
"In my first month, I gained 60 pounds," Yates said.
He was asked to clarify. One month?
"Yes, first month," Yates said. "In high school, I didn't eat breakfast at all. In JUCO, Coach (Steve) Buckley was like, breakfast is mandatory. I was eating, eating, eating every day. I just gained a lot of weight. We were one of the only JUCOs that had an actual strength coach. He was able to balance things out with me as far as my strength and agility and everything of that nature."
He was a two-time all-conference player and was selected the conference lineman of the year at Jones Community College in 2021. He expected to step right in and play last fall. He did play in four games but was able to use a redshirt season.
"That was a tough thing to accept, but I learned to accept it because I felt like it was better in the long run," Yates said. "Last year really helped. Me redshirting helped me see the field better. Last year, my technique was coming together. But having the older guys in front of me really helped me see what a defense really can do."
He's putting those lessons to work at guard instead of tackle.
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