By David Fong
Regional Sports Content Manager
PHOENIX — When returning from injured reserve to play for a world championship, the first thing Quinn Pitcock did was go back to the basics.
“The simplest way to put it is I was put on injured reserve (by the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League) for the second time this season and then activated 24 hours before the Arena Bowl,” Pitcock said. “Everyone told me how well I played in that game. One of the first things I worried about was my first-step explosion. Being injured, you basically start back from zero. You go back to the basics of football. One of the first things I learned from Coach (Bill) Nees at Piqua was getting a good first step and closing the gap. When you are a defensive lineman, that’s one of the first things they teach you. That’s something I learned at Piqua.”
Those basic defensive lineman techniques have served him well throughout his football career, making him an All-Ohio lineman at Piqua High School, one of the top recruits in the nation, an All-American at The Ohio State University, an NFL draft pick and, most recently, an Arena Bowl XXVII champion with the Arizona Rattlers.
Last weekend, Pitcock and the Rattlers defeated the Cleveland Gladiators 72-32 to capture an Arena Bowl title. For Pitcock, it was the crowing glory on a career that began in Piqua. At the Piqua football team’s home opener Friday against Toledo St. John’s, Pitcock — along with Craig Clemons, Dave Gallagher, Matt Finkes and Brandon Saine — will be one of five Piqua High School graduates to have played in the NFL.
“I don’t know how or when I’ll be back — but I’ll definitely be back,” Pitcock said with a chuckle. “We’ve got a lot going on out here right now with parades and talking to the media and things like that. But I’ll definitely be back — I don’t care if I have to hitchhike. I wouldn’t miss this. This is a great honor.”
One of many Pitcock has earned throughout his playing career.
Pitcock graduated from Piqua High School as one of the most-decorated players in school history. A three-year starter, the 2002 graduate was named first-team All-Ohio twice, first-team All-Southwest District twice and first-team all-conference three times. He was the Greater Western Ohio Conference Player of the Year in 2000, won the team’s Red Gabriel Award in 2000 and was named the team’s 2001 Most Valuable Player and Most Valuable Defensive Lineman. As a junior, he also helped lead the Indians to a spot in the Division II state title game.
He also was named Outstanding Defensive Lineman in the 2001 North/South All-Star Game, was a second-team USA Today All-American and was rated a top 100 college prospect by the Scout.com recruiting service.
Pitcock became one of the most highly recruited players in the country, picking up offers from nearly every major Division I program in the nation. After narrowing his choices to Ohio State, Penn State and Notre Dame, Pitcock elected to play for the Buckeyes.
While there, the honors and accolades continued to roll in for Pitcock.
After redshirting in 2002 — Ohio State’s national championship season — Pitcock immediately found himself thrown into the mix, starting for four years at defensive tackle. He won the school’s Jack Stephenson Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award in 2003, the Bill Marshall Warrior Award in 2004 and the Bill Willis Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award in 2006.
As a junior, he was named second-team All-Big 10. As a senior, he was a consensus first-team All-American and first-team All-Big 10. He also was selected as a team captain and was an Academic All-American. He also was a finalist for the Ronnie Lott Trophy and the Lombardi Trophy. He also helped lead the Buckeyes to the 2006 BCS National Championship game.
Following his playing days at The Ohio State University, the Indianapolis Colts took Pitcock in the third round (98th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft. Pitcock played one season for the Colts, recording 18 tackles and 1.5 quarterback sacks. He retired following his rookie season to deal with bouts of depression and video game addiction.
Pitcock returned to football in 2010, playing in the preseason with the Seattle Seahawks and then again in the 2011 preseason with the Detroit Lions. He played with the AFL’s Orlando Predators in 2012 and 2013 before being traded to the Rattlers in early 2014.
In Arizona, Pitcock — who played in four bowl games in the state while a member of the Buckeyes — has found peace on the football field and a home within the community. After falling short in the state title game in high school and the 2006 national title game in college, Pitcock recently won a championship — to go along with the title he did win as a redshirt in 2002 — with the Rattlers.
“Part of wining a championship was redemption for me,” Pitcock said. “It was the biggest win, I felt like, in my career. I was able to do it with a bunch of guys who have really accepted me and taken me in as part of their family.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong