Two of a Kind

by Justin Long, Co-Director of Sports Information

On the night of Apr. 25, 2008, Brandon Quinn and Femi Oyalowo sat in their rooms appropriately dressed for the Amherst College Spring Formal. When Quinn spotted two students wearing virtually the exact same clothes as he and Oyalowo were wearing, he decided fitting the norm was boring. He replaced his dress shoes with sandals, put on a visor, changed into a flannel shirt and cut the sleeves off. He still wore a tie, but it was in the shape of a Christmas tree. Oyalowo liked what he saw and followed suit, and off they went looking not-so-formal.

Quinn and Oyalowo have worn those outfits to each Spring Formal they have attended. Now seniors, not much has changed since their freshman year. Oyalowo wears 3-D glasses at social events and tells people he can see the world in six dimensions. “That’s Femi in a nutshell,” Quinn says.

Quinn wears random novelty t-shirts that have no particular meaning to him. He loves the reactions they get. “He just gets so excited about everything,” Oyalowo says. “His enthusiasm about life is like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

The two have become quite the pair at Amherst. It’s hard to find two players on the Amherst football team who are as well liked. According to head coach E.J. Mills, you can’t say one without the other. They have been roommates for two years, and last summer they both worked in Washington, D.C.

When they’re not playing football, Quinn and Oyalowo are known as two of the laziest kids on campus. During the winter of their sophomore year, for example, they went snowboarding for the first time. After it took an hour and a half to get down the bunny slope (no exaggeration) they decided they’d had enough for one day. They spent the rest of the afternoon in the lodge watching TV and putting their healthy appetites on display for locals.

Brandon Quinn '11 (left) and Femi Oyalowo '11 (right). (Photo by Sam Masinter '04)

Nothing bonds the two more so than the so-called “Val Sit.” When the 2007 football season ended, their amount of leisure time increased exponentially. After workouts Quinn and Oyalowo would go to Valentine Hall at 5 p.m. and eat dinner with a group of friends. When they finished eating, they wouldn’t budge. They relaxed with the next wave of people, told stories and ate again at 7:30. It went on all semester and has been their trademark each spring.

Quinn and Oyalowo are anything but lazy when it comes to football. (Or academics for that matter. They both major in political science and have GPAs that hover around 3.0.) From the time they were recruited, it was obvious they’d someday be the team’s leaders at their respective positions. In 2008 Oyalowo led the team’s running backs in yards per carry and ran for two touchdowns. Mills described him as a Mack truck. Quinn—a linebacker—cracked the starting lineup as a sophomore and last year finished second on the team in tackles.

But with only three games remaining in the 2010 season, their senior years haven’t gone exactly as planned. Quinn sat out at Middlebury with a leg contusion, and then tore his ACL while making a tackle against Colby. He is healing quickly but will likely miss the next two games (he hopes to play against Williams).

Quinn didn’t play a single snap at Middlebury, but he might have made the biggest impact. With Amherst trailing 9-0 at halftime Quinn gave an inspiring speech to the defensive players. It was so intense that the offensive players came over from their half of the locker room to listen. Amherst then scored 38 points in the second half and won the game. “He made it sound like there was no way we would lose,” recalls Oyalowo. “He’s so intense, it’s infectious. He willed us to that win.”

Even when he was removed from the Colby game with what could have been a season-ending injury, Quinn stood tall. With crutches in hand, he stood on the sideline and was as vocal as ever. “It was just instinct to get back up and help coach our younger guys,” he says. “The leadership role doesn’t stop just because you’re hurt.”

For the first five games of the 2010 season Oyalowo was the third running back on the team’s depth chart. When veteran players lose their starting roles, it is common for them to complain or even contemplate quitting. That was not the case with Oyalowo, who couldn’t be prouder of his teammates’ success. “This year we’ve run the ball so well, and it’s awesome to watch. Our group is very tight. Anytime one of us does well, we’re excited for each other.”

Running back Steve Jellison ’14 says he’s learned more from Oyalowo than from anyone else on the team. Jellison was a three-year starter in high school but is now fourth on Amherst’s depth chart. “Seeing Femi continue to work hard at practice inspires me to do the same. He has probably taught me the most about what it means to be a leader, even when you are facing unfavorable circumstances.”

Quinn and Oyalowo have taken on new roles, but there is a lot of football left to play. This past weekend at Wesleyan, Oyalowo led Amherst’s running game by carrying the ball 11 times for 69 yards and a touchdown. At times he looked unstoppable. “He’s still got some great football ahead of him,” Mills says. “He has stayed positive, which is a big reason his teammates flat-out think the world of him.”

Players and coaches say there is a different feeling when Quinn is in the game. He controls the chaos and provides a sense of comfort. Few people love football as much as he does—it would take a lot for him to not play against Williams. “If there’s even an inkling,” Oyalowo says, “he’ll be there.”

Quinn and Oyalowo will contribute to the team’s success regardless of how much playing time they receive. After the season they can go back to their Val Sits and reclaim the title of “laziest kids on campus.” Quinn doesn’t know what the odds are that he’ll suit up against Williams. But the odds he and Oyalowo will wear their usual attire next April for the Spring Formal?

“One hundred percent.”