If college football had an All-Perspective team, Jeff Lindquist would merit first-team consideration.
He knows his football career at the University of Washington did not go according to plan. He will admit, of course, that he wanted badly to be the Huskies starting quarterback, that he dreamed about it as a kid growing up in Mercer Island.
What he also knows: He will leave UW with a degree in business finance — he already graduated, actually, in June — and with three internships in his back pocket. Also, with a victory in the only game he ever started at quarterback. And with friends he never would have met otherwise.
“There’s still a lot of great things to learn and great experiences to have despite the plan not going quite how you wanted it to go,” Lindquist said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’ve had a chance to be around a bunch of really great men and learn a lot about how to work with people, how to help a team become great, and hopefully learned a lot about myself.”
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Now a fifth-year senior tight end, Lindquist will play in his final collegiate home game on Saturday when the Huskies host Arizona State. He came to Washington as a touted, four-star quarterback prospect with a big arm and decent speed. He narrowed his college choices to Stanford and Washington. The hometown school won out.
But it never quite worked out for Lindquist at quarterback. He started Washington’s season opener as a third-year sophomore in 2014, a 17-16 victory at Hawaii. But he struggled, and Cyler Miles, out against Hawaii while serving a suspension, took over the starting job the next week. Lindquist attempted four passes the rest of the season, though he appeared occasionally in a wildcat role and rushed for 63 yards and two touchdowns.
The next year, he battled throughout spring and fall camp with true freshman Jake Browning and redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels for the starting job. Browning won it. Carta-Samuels was named the backup. Lindquist didn’t attempt a pass all season, again appearing only in wildcat packages. He moved to tight end in the spring.
“Obviously, last year, I wanted to be the starting quarterback, and that didn’t work out,” Lindquist said. “But staying involved made it more exciting, so in that sense it was really nice to have coaches who still believed in my ability and my capability, and I felt like I was valued.”
UW coaches love everything about him. His attitude. His selflessness. His life skills. His academic pursuits. Coach Chris Petersen calls him “a five-star person,” a designation that must rank at the tippy top of the “Our Kinda Guy” scale.
“You see guys in your career who you’re really anxious to sometimes fast forward the clock in about 10 years and see what he’s doing,” Petersen said, “and Jeff is certainly one of those guys, because you know it’s going to be something special.”
Lindquist has worked to ensure that it will be. He is currently in the final rounds of interviews for a full-time job, joking that “I’m hoping to be an adult here pretty soon.” He is interested in management consulting, and is open to working in finance or sales, and is also working on a research project for a software company — on top of taking classes this quarter at UW.
The last three summers, Lindquist interned for the Bellevue venture capital firm Ignition Partners; Expediters, a shipping logistics company, and GM Nameplate, an electronics manufacturer, “helping them launch a consumer product.”
Each of the past two summers, Lindquist and close pal Michael Kneip, a UW senior offensive lineman from Bellevue, have helped organize a “Lift For Life” event to raise money for pediatric multiple sclerosis research. Lindquist was recently named one of 11 semifinalists for the Wuerffel Trophy, awarded annually to the FBS player who “best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.”
On the field, he continues to help the Huskies however he can. He holds for field goals and extra points. He’s on the punt team. And while he doesn’t see many game reps at tight end, he has enjoyed learning the position and seeing the game from a different perspective.
“All I knew about football was how the quarterback looks at it, for the last eight years of my life,” Lindquist said. “I understand a lot more about blocking and how the line works, combo blocks (and) route running. It’s fun.”
Mostly, Lindquist is grateful for a college experience that he can easily term enjoyable, for friends that he won’t forget, and, yes, for a victory in the only game he started at quarterback.
“I came from Mercer Island, and all the guys I graduated (high school) with were all guys I met in kindergarten,” Lindquist said. “So it was really fun to come here and meet a new group of guys from different backgrounds, and be able to be on a team with them and work toward a common goal.”