Looking in from the outside, Quincy McGee’s presence on the UAB offensive line came affixed with a question mark when the 2022 season began.

McGee was the lone offensive lineman projected to be a starter that had no starts to his name. The other four – tackles Kadeem Telfort and Sidney Wells, guard Matthew Trehern and center Will Rykard – were proven at their position. And then there was McGee, who played in five games as a backup last season but was far from proven.

Inside the football operations center, though, there wasn’t necessarily a question mark.

“We really saw it in the spring,” said interim head coach Bryant Vincent. “When Sidney got banged up in the spring, we moved guys around and we put Q at that right guard position. The next two weeks of spring practice, he really took steps. Every practice, you could see him take big steps and, really, that was where he kicked the door down and said I’m ready to play. He was proving it day in and day out.”

It was a different Quincy McGee from a year ago.

“He developed a lot of confidence, we were developing confidence in him, because of his performance and his consistency,” Vincent said. “It just fed over to summer and fall camp and now you see what he's accomplished this season.”

McGee started all 12 games at right guard and was an All-Conference USA second-team selection. He is finishing off a strong season with his teammates against Miami of Ohio in the Bahamas Bowl on Friday.

“I’ve grown in a lot of ways,” McGee said. “I’ve grown as a player and outside of football. I learned if I do right outside of football, everything will be good inside the building.”

Offensive tackle Sidney Wells, who lines up next to McGee, has seen the growth.

“I’ve seen him fight through injury, I’ve seen him grow as a player from a schematic standpoint,” said Wells, a first-team All-Conference USA selection. “Quincy, his growth from when he first got here to where he is now is amazing. He’s definitely put in the work.”

The work actually began at a pair of junior colleges. The Hattiesburg, Mississippi native didn’t get recruited out of high school because schools felt like he was too big. As a high school senior, McGee said he was around 385 pounds. During his first year at Southwest Mississippi Community College, he reached 420 pounds.

“My o-line coach had me on a strict diet and workout,” McGee said. “Mainly, not being able to eat what I wanted to eat. Eating healthy and not being able to eat at a certain time of night.”

By the end of his first year, he was down to 370 pounds. He transferred to Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, where he was part of a national championship team, and was down to 335 pounds by the time he arrived at UAB. He played this season at 295 pounds.

Wells has a similar story. He was over 400 pounds at one point while at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and developed into a two-time All-C-USA player.

“It is crazy, especially being from Mississippi, people didn’t really give us a chance,” said Wells. “It’s crazy to see guys who have the same ambition, the same goals, the same want-to that you have. To know that you’re not alone. I definitely appreciate it.”

For McGee, he has one more season at UAB, which means he’s begun the process of showing the new staff his capability.

“Most definitely, I have to prove myself,” McGee said. “I feel like everybody has to prove yourself to somebody coming in, when they don’t know you. You have to earn your spot. Nothing is given to you. I feel like I’m ready to rock out.”

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