Farewell to … Aubrey Quarles

Editor’s Note: The Kansas State football team is about to lose several key seniors to graduation. In the coming weeks, we will bid farewell to many of them. First up: Aubrey Quarles.

No senior on Kansas State’s roster stepped up more for the Wildcats in 2010 than Aubrey Quarles.

The senior wide receiver entered the season as a promising but unproven pass-catcher next to Brodrick Smith, Tramaine Thompson, Adrian Hilburn and Chris Harper. He ended it as the best of the group.

His rise couldn’t have come at a better time. With Brandon Banks gone, coaches were hoping to spread the ball around to a handful of receivers. Then Smith and Thompson got hurt and spent the second half of the season watching from the sidelines.

K-State badly needed a go-to threat in the passing game, and Quarles became that go-to threat. On the season, he led the Wildcats in catches (51) receiving yardage (760) and receiving touchdowns (5). Not bad. But his best performances came when his offense was down two key players.

Check out these numbers: 131 yards and a touchdown at Baylor, 133 yards and a touchdown at Missouri, 114 yards and a touchdown at Colorado, a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at North Texas and 75 yards in the Pinstripe Bowl.

K-State’s passing game improved dramatically during the second-half of the season, and Quarles was one of the biggest reasons why. He ran crisp routes, and never gave up on plays.

Against Colorado and Missouri, he made some incredibly tough catches, and quarterback Carson Coffman often said he bailed him out of poor throws.

He also filled in admirably for William Powell as a kick returner once he went down with an injury.

Quarles joined the Wildcats in 2008 from Santa Rosa Junior College. He played in all 12 of K-State’s games that season and caught 34 passes for 407 yards and a touchdown. Hopes were high for him in 2009, but he missed the entire season with an injury.

When he returned to the field in 2010, he had a new appreciation for the game and dedicated his success to his family — particularly his young daughter.

At 5-foot-11 and 202 pounds, a professional football career seems unlikely. If his days on the gridiron are over, at least he can say he finished them out strong.