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Meet The NFL Draft Prospect Who Never Played College Football

He was a college dropout driving for DoorDash. Now he’s on the cusp of football’s highest level.

Qwan'tez Stiggers has the best underdog story in the 2024 NFL Draft
Credit-Getty/CFL/Toronto Argonauts/Joker Mag

“I gave up on my dream.”

Now, this former college dropout is about to make history.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Qwan’tez Stiggers grew up in a family of thirteen children.

His siblings were tight-knit, and they always looked out for each other.

“Where I come from, there’s a lot of stupid things that go on,” he said.

“A lot of gangs, a lot of violence, and stuff like that, so I tried to keep myself busy.”

He played football, basketball, and baseball at The B.E.S.T. Academy – an all-boys charter school for students from grades 6 through 12.

The school’s website describes B.E.S.T. as a “brotherhood”, with some students calling the teaching staff their “second family”.

“It was a two-bus, two-train ride to get there,” Stiggers told The Toronto Star. “And I had to be out of the house at 5:30 to get to school for 8 in the morning.”

In his first three high school football seasons, Stiggers was primarily a kicker.

“My high school journey was kind of tough because it was just like, everybody was bigger than me.”

Going into his junior year, he was only 5’6”.  But by the summer going into his senior season, he hit a growth spurt to 6’0”.

He moved all over the field in his final two high school seasons – defensive back, wide receiver, quarterback, and kick returner.

After his senior season ended, he only had a few months left until high school graduation.

In February of 2020, his life changed.

His father got into a single-car accident.  The car flipped thirteen times.  He fell into a coma and went on life support shortly after.

Qwan’tez entered a depressed state.

“I just shut down because he meant the world to me,” he said. “I didn’t eat. I turned off my phone. I didn’t come out of the house for a couple of weeks.”

Doing his best to continue, he graduated from B.E.S.T. Academy in May of 2020.

Then in August, he reported to Lane College – a Division II program in Tennessee.

But a few weeks later, everything came to a grinding halt.

After eight months on a ventilator, his father passed away in September of 2020.

School and football suddenly seemed a lot less important.

“Why play football if your biggest fan couldn’t be there?”

Qwan'tez Stiggers on leaving college after his father's passing: "I dropped out of school and stayed away from football. I gave up on my dream."

So he dropped out of Lane College and made the 5-hour drive home to Atlanta.

“[I] came home to be a fatherly figure for my brothers and be close to my mom.”

With 13 step-siblings to help support, he did whatever he could to earn money: driving for DoorDash, shopping for InstaCart, and even cleaning cars at the Atlanta airport.

“I dropped out of school and stayed away from football. I gave up on my dream.”

One day in early 2022, his mom saw a Facebook post that caught her eye.

A new 7-on-7 professional indoor league called “Fan Controlled Football” was searching for players.

“I thought maybe this would be fun for him and help bring him back to the Tez that I know,” his mom said.

So she filled out the tryout form for Qwan’tez without even telling him.

“She’s not OK with me being average,” Stiggers said.

“She used to wake me up at five in the morning, she’d say, ‘C’mon, Tez, you gotta get up, let’s go run, you gotta work out.’”

Two days before the open tryout, Qwan’tez got a confirmation with all the details.

That’s how he found out he was going.

From the time he stepped foot on that field, Stiggers dominated.

“If I went 20 times, I probably won like 17 reps.”

A short while later, he signed with the FCF. But it wasn’t what you picture when you hear “professional football”.

Money-wise, it wasn’t far from what he was earning on DoorDash.  Over the six-week season, players made between $2,400 and $4,500 total.

The rules were different, too.

Described as football “reimagined for the digital age”, fans got to call the plays.  There were no kickoffs or special teams either.

Unconventional? Sure.  But for Stiggers, it was a chance to return to the game he loved.

After sacrificing his playing career to help his family, the 20-year-old was getting a well-deserved second chance.

But no one could’ve guessed the opportunities it would lead to.

If there was any rust from his 18-month layoff, it didn’t show on the field.

Despite being the youngest player in the league, Qwan’tez played so well that he was nominated for Defensive Player of the Year.

Qwan'tez Stiggers on covering Terrell Owens in the Fan Controlled Football league: "I told [Owens]...‘The ball is gonna be thrown to you, and I’m gonna pick it off.’  I did that exact thing at the end of the game."

He made 30 tackles and led the league with five interceptions, three of which came in a single game.  He matched up against former NFL greats like Terrell Owens and shut them down.

“I told [Owens]…‘The ball is gonna be thrown to you, and I’m gonna pick it off.’  I did that exact thing at the end of the game.”

Stiggers’ dominance caught the attention of John Jenkins – a former offensive coordinator in the CFL.  Jenkins put in a good word for him with the league’s Toronto Argonauts, and they offered him a contract.

“[In] camp, I thought I was gonna be the first one cut,” Qwan’tez admitted.

Toronto’s DB coach Josh Bell agreed: “Instantly we were like, ‘Oh, he can’t play, he’s got no experience.’ So it was a negative, pessimistic approach first.”

“[But] after the first day, it was optimistic. It was something I hadn’t seen before…he took the cake.”

It didn’t take long for Stiggers to change their minds.  He made the final roster and stuck around for the entire 2023 season.

In his rookie year, the 6’0” cornerback made 53 tackles and notched five interceptions in 16 games.

He was chosen as the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie, a CFL East All-Star, and was invited to attend the 2024 East-West Shrine Bowl.

A few years after giving up on football, Qwan’tez Stiggers is expected to be selected in the 2024 NFL Draft.

“I’m loving this process.  Meeting all these guys that went to all these big-time schools…it’s just a blessing to be here.”

In four short years, Stiggers went from a college dropout to a legit NFL Draft prospect.

“I can ball,” he said after the Shrine Bowl.

“Just ’cause it’s a good story [doesn’t mean I can’t] back it up.”

This spring, he’s hoping to make history as one of a select few American players to make it to the NFL without playing college football.

“If I put my mind to it, I know I can do it.”

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Written By

Division III baseball alum (McDaniel College) and founder of Joker Mag. Sharing underdog stories to inspire the next generation.



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