April 9, 2009
THE McQUEEN FILE
Who: Erwin Jermaine McQueen
Honors: All-MWC Indoors (200)
Born: July 13, 1984
Hometown Raleigh, N.C.
Parents: Ervin & Pearlie
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
If Lobo football coach Mike Locksley ever glances in the direction of Lobo track and notices some guy sneaking around with binoculars and a stop watch (and probably talking on a cell phone), there is no need for Locksley to worry.
It probably will be that in-house spy, Lobo track coach Joe Franklin, looking for another Lobo football speedster to beef up the UNM track roster.
Franklin has a reputation for finding blue-ribbon talent from various points on the globe and the UNM football team is not immune from Franklin's probes for talent.
Hey, it got him Jermaine McQueen, a football transplant who is quickly and not so quietly making a name for himself as one of the top sprinters in Lobo track history.
McQueen's track story as a Lobo is a neat one because it got its start from Lobo football. As a junior receiver, he strutted over to the UNM track with some other Lobo football players to show the track guys that the football guys really do have world-class speed. Most of the football guys went back to the turf with their tails between their legs.
Not McQueen. He was asked to stay. "He was truly fast," said Franklin. "We wanted him. And he was running on football legs."
McQueen first joined Franklin's Lobos after spring football of 2008 and although McQueen is blessed with natural speed and has a track background, he hadn't been training as a track guy. There is a difference. With about two weeks of track work, he finished fourth in the 100 at the Mountain West Championships. It was the best finish by a Lobo in five years.
"I wanted a medal so bad at that meet," said McQueen. "I wasn't in bad shape, but it was football shape, not sprinting shape. I knew I`d be back this year because I wanted to see how good I could be with serious training."
With no spring football on his agenda this season, McQueen went straight into track training. "We've had him since January," said Franklin. "He is more of a track guy now and he is getting better and better. He is on the verge of being one of the best in the country."
McQueen might already be there. He finished third in the 2009 MWC Indoor Championships (200).
At the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational last week, McQueen was the top collegiate finisher in the 100 and 200 meters. His times of 10.62 and 21.11 were career bests and his 200 time made him the first Lobo since 2003 to qualify for the NCAA regionals. That time also moved him into the No. 5 spot on UNM`s all-time list. He is No. 6 on the UNM 100 meters all-time list.
Not bad for a football guy, who caught 24 passes for 226 yards this past season.
"It's tough to leave football behind because that's a deep love and you always want to keep playing," said McQueen. "But I always wanted to see if I could compete at this level. I didn`t want to be looking back and wondering, `What if?' I`m in the best shape of my life. I`m more prepared to run this year. I`m more of a runner now."
The question as to whether McQueen can compete at "this level" really is a dead issue. He can compete. The question is how high can he climb that ladder. McQueen's goal is to qualify for NCAA regionals in both the 100 and 200 and then go to the NCAA Championships.
"That's where the big boys are," he said.
McQueen came from Palomar College to UNM to play football in the summer of 2007. He ran track in high school and was good. He was the North Carolina state champ in the 100 and 200 as a junior and senior. He also was a state champ on the 4x100 relay.
There was no track program at Palomar and he probably wouldn't have ran track at Polomar even if the school had a team. "It was all football then," said McQueen. "That was my focus."
Of course, football hasn't been bad for McQueen's track career. It did bring him to Franklin and there might be a funny twist to that at the end of the current track season.
Franklin plans to invite another group of football speedsters over to run against the track guys. A year ago, McQueen was on the football team's 4x100 team that got blown away after dropping the baton on the second leg.
This time, McQueen will be a track guy -- a very fast track guy.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner