By Ken Lay

Catholic High School football player J.T. Quinones will continue his academic pursuits and athletic career in college.

He finalized his college plans Thursday afternoon when he signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Carson-Newman University.

Quinones, a linebacker for the Irish, has been Catholic’s leading tackler in each of the last two seasons.

He also played lacrosse at the school for four years and wrestled for two seasons.

He will enter college in Jefferson City as a Pre-med major and aspires for a career in anesthesiology.

He said once he passed through the portals of Carson-Newman, that he knew it was the school for him.

“To be honest, when I saw the campus, I was skeptical,” Quinones said. “It looked different from anything that I’d seen. It looked different from what I saw at UT and from what I saw at Maryville College.

“But once I went in, I knew that it was the place for me.”

Quinones said that he considered playing at Middle Tennessee and he also pondered enrolling at the University of Tennessee to concentrate on academics.

He decided, however, that the chance to play college football was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“I considered going to Middle Tennessee State for football and I also thought about going to UT and not playing football and getting an early start on my career,” Quinones said. “But I thought about it and I decided that I wanted to play football because I might not ever play football again.”

Quinones also noted that once he made the choice to continue his career on the gridiron that it was important for him to stay close to home.

“I could’ve gone away, but I wanted to stay close enough to home so my family can see me play,” he said. “My parents have been the most supportive people in my life and I wanted them to be around and see me play for the rest of my career.”

Quinones said that the small class size at Carson-Newman appealed to him and he also noted that he felt welcome at the school.

“I’ll really enjoy the small classes because you’ll have a better and personal relationship with the professors,” he said.

“You’ll also get to know the people in your classroom.

“The coaching staff there is also very supportive.”