“When Jesse Holley came to us as a team and wanted us to give money, I praised him for that,” Person said. “I gave as much as I could. When you keep people like that in mind who are not as blessed as you, you realize just how blessed you are to get to go out and play every Saturday.”
Person and his family were forced to live in a shelter for over a year following Hurricane Floyd which flooded his home.
Person chooses to downplay the struggle that he endured. He has also clearly grown from the experience and used the mental strength that he developed to his advantage.
“As a football player, you have to rise to the challenge, and I’m all about challenges,” Person said.
John Bunting says Person sets the team standard for effort. As a prospect at Bethel’s North Pitt High School, Bunting saw in Person his incredible athletic assets and versatility. But it wasn't until later he discovered the heart and passion Person brings to the team.
“I saw Quinton at a combine in Williamston, N.C., watched him compete, and I was extremely impressed with his athleticism and his competitiveness,” Bunting said. “That was the primary reason we wanted to recruit him hard and make him a Tar Heel.
“But what he has demonstrated since he has been on this campus is how much he loves the game of football. If you give him just an ounce of knowledge, he’s going to take it to another level. He continues to get smarter and better, and nobody ever outworks him.”
Virginia ran a close second in the 2003 courtship of Person, but in the end, the fact that he is a lifelong Carolina fan and could remain in state, helped tilt him to the Tar Heels.
“He’s a do it all kind of kid,” Panthers head coach Ken Whitehurst said during his recruitment.
Not necessarily even a regular starter yet, except when the defense is in its nickel package, Person is tied for fourth on the team with 19 tackles – 18 of which were unassisted. In many cases he’s all alone on a receiver, and was picked on quite a bit last week in the Utes’ spread option offensive scheme.
Utah quarterback Brian Johnson tried to nickel and dime Person with short underneath routes to his receivers. The ploy worked for a while, but as the game wore on, Person became more and more disruptive and allowed fewer, if any yards after the catch.
“Coaches told me to be more aggressive in what I was doing,” Person said. “They weren’t really running deep routes, just comeback routes. They caught a couple on me, so going into the fourth quarter I knew that’s what they were going to do. Basically, one of their receivers told me so and I told him to, ‘Bring it.’
“It was just a matter of getting a feel for what they were doing. As a corner you have to be confident in everything that you’re doing, so I try not to ever let myself get down.”
As a redshirt freshman in ‘04, Person played in 10 games, and saw his playing time increase significantly throughout the season as a standout on special teams.
Now he has made himself a fixture on the UNC defense -- Bunting said he expects Person to play about 60 percent of the time on Saturday. Person still has a lot to learn. However, as he continues to mature and increase his reputation as a playmaker with his team in the forefront of his concern, he also makes it harder and harder for the UNC coaches to keep him off the field.
“I want him to just keep playing the way he’s playing,” Bunting said. “He may make a mistake – like everyone else – but it won’t be because of effort.”