LOGAN — Fresh off of the practice field on a warm Saturday morning in Cache Valley, Quin Ficklin is all smiles as pleasantries are exchanged for the first time.
But immediately after the “nice to meet you” moment is over, Ficklin quickly shifts into business mode and makes certain that things are going to be done right.
“That’s Quin with one ‘n,’” the 6-foot-2, 290-pound offensive lineman clarifies.
Right. Now why is that?
“A second ‘n’ is redundant,” he proclaims. “There’s no point in that.”
While it might also be redundant to say that things have worked out well for Ficklin since he arrived in Logan last winter, it really should be noted that after transferring to Utah State in search of a scholarship and a starting job, Ficklin now has a scholarship and is slated to start at center in the Aggies’ season opener at Wisconsin on Friday night.
“Last year at the other school I played for, I was the backup center and they also got me on the field as a short-yardage fullback.” Ficklin points out. "I think I came at the right time with the right opportunity for me, and I’ve capitalized on it as best I can."
The “other school” which Ficklin deftly avoided referring to by name is BYU, where he redshirted in 2012 before leaving on an LDS Church mission. He didn't play as a freshman in 2015, but saw action in seven games last season, catching just one pass for two yards, albeit for a fourth-down conversion during the Cougars' victory at Michigan State.
But leaving Provo wasn't easy, at least from a family perspective. His mother, Twila, competed for the Cougars as a heptathlete, while Quin’s sister, Hailey, was also on the BYU track and field team as a high jumper.
“And my Dad (Wade) went there,” Ficklin notes. “So, I was born and bred.
“But I love it here,” he quickly adds. “Logan’s great.”
It turns out that Ficklin was recruited to Logan primarily by the Aggies' new starting left offensive tackle, Roman Andrus. The two played together at BYU before their missions, then lived together during their first season afterward when Andrus was trying to earn a spot on the Cougars' defensive line. But the 6-4, 300-pound Andrus ended up transferring to Snow College, where he starred on the Badgers' D-line last season, drawing the attention of Matt Wells' staff at Utah State.
"After he signed, Roman gave me a call and said there was a great opportunity for someone to play center here, that their starting center had graduated and it was a new system and a new offense," Ficklin recalls.
Following the graduation of Austin Stephens, a three-year starter, the Aggies did have a big hole to fill at center heading into 2017. In addition, Wells hired a new offensive coordinator in David Yost, who was bringing a new spread offense to Utah State and shaking things up on the offensive line.
"So, I got a release (from BYU), came up here, checked it out and loved it," Ficklin says. "And I haven't looked back since. It's been really great up here for me."
Ficklin then adds, "(BYU) Coach Kalani (Sitake) was really good to me. He gave me a full release, so I really have nothing but love for Kalani and his program down there."
Because he wasn't on scholarship at BYU, Ficklin didn't have to sit out a year before suiting up with the Aggies. Now a junior, he immediately turned heads during the spring, earning a scholarship at the end of spring practices, and then continued to impress Wells and his staff during fall camp.
"He did it right out of the gate," Wells says of Ficklin. "Our guys really responded to him. … He's been a good leader — he cares, his care factor is off the charts — and he's smart, tough and he brings an attitude and a nastiness to that O-line."
Senior quarterback Kent Myers says that he and Ficklin "clicked" right away, and that he loves his new center's energy and vocal leadership.
"If you’re out there on the football field, he’s the one that’s yelling," Myers says. "He’s a rah-rah guy, which is contagious. People see that and they feed off it, and I think that’s a good thing.
"Austin Stephens, he was a leader. … But what I think Quin brings to the table is he’s more vocal. He’s getting the guys ready. And the guys like that."
It would seem that Ficklin does have the ability to quickly adjust to new environments.
Although he’s lived in Ohio, Indiana and Washington, in addition to Utah, Ficklin played high school football at Red Mountain High in Mesa, Arizona. He was an Arizona Class 5A first-team selection at center following his senior year in 2011, but Ficklin was also a standout lacrosse player, playing all four years of high school and earning all-state honors during his final season.
After his freshman year at BYU, Ficklin was called to serve an LDS mission in the New York, New York North Mission. Although Mesa isn’t exactly small, Ficklin says it was “pretty daunting” serving in Manhattan, on the Lower East Side and in the Bronx, where Yankee Stadium was in his zone.2 comments on this story
But then, he also says he never lacked for people to talk to, especially where one of his areas encompassed 3.5 million people.
“I had a lot of crazy experiences there,” Ficklin says. “But the ones I liked the best were the ones where I got to teach people and help people and influence their lives, not so much the day to day, What the heck did I just see that hobo do?
“But yeah, that happened all of the time. You’d walk past something and think, What was that smell? And look around and no one was there. Sometimes the city just stinks.
“So, Logan smells good,” Ficklin adds with a smile. “I like Logan.”