Former Group 1 high school star quietly produces strong career at receiver, special teams for Rutgers
Palmyra, N.J., located in the northwestern tip of Burlington County, is home to 7,398 residents, according to the 2010 United States Census.
“It’s more of a family-oriented town,” said Quron Pratt, who calls the 2.5 square mile town home. “Everybody knows each other’s whole family since they were young. Everyone has grown up together because it’s a small town. It’s a great place to live and a great place to be.”
In a sense, Pratt is a perfect metaphor for Palmyra. Palmyra High School, where Pratt played four seasons for the Panthers, educates just 426 students grades 9-12.
At six feet and 190 pounds, the senior wide receiver is never the tallest, biggest or fastest player whenever the Rutgers football team takes the field.
That never stopped him from quietly having one of the more productive careers out of this year’s senior class.
With one, possibly two games left for the Scarlet Knights this season, Pratt has 84-career receptions for 1,041 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown.
Pratt has 29 receptions for 470 yards this season, but his biggest impact has been on specials teams.
Pratt returned a kickoff 99 yards to the house Sept. 14 against Eastern Michigan. A week earlier against Norfolk State, he blocked a punt.
Redshirt freshman wideout Ruhann Peele, who calls Pratt his mentor, believes Pratt’s success starts with where he came from.
“It’s helped him a lot,” Peele said. “He knows to keep pushing on and probably has a chip on his shoulder coming from a Group 1 school. It’s a good thing for him.”
Pratt led Palmyra to a 9-1 record his senior season, as the Panthers captured the Burlington County/Olympic Freedom Division title.
Pratt hauled 10 touchdowns that year as a receiver and also intercepted four passes playing defensive back. He ended his career with 20 interceptions, a school record.
The high number of plays on both offense and defense was one of the benefits Pratt said he experienced attending a smaller school.
“You get to show your talents more,” Pratt said. “When you go to a big school, you’ll probably only play one side of the ball. At Palmyra, I played both sides. I got a lot of my offers for defense.”
Those came from Delaware, Duke, James Madison, Northwestern and Villanova, according to Rivals. Pittsburgh also showed interest as well as Rutgers, which initially recruited him for defense but also entertained him playing offense.
He ultimately chose to stay home and play for the Knights, a choice he knew he would make since his sophomore season when he watched running back Ray Rice run up and down the field during the Knights’ 2006 season.
“Just a totally different experience, the crowd just everything,” Pratt said. “I’ve never been to a big-time football game ever in my life, I was used to just high school games. It felt like an NFL game. That’s when I knew I wanted to come here.”
His leadership during his final season in Piscataway is something head coach Kyle Flood admires.
“He is such a meticulous preparer and such an excellent practice player from the moment he steps on the field,” Flood said. “Whether it’s individual period, special teams roles or as a wide receiver. Modeling that kind of behavior for the younger players is priceless in your program to have.”
Pratt still tries to get home as much as he can during the season. He said the last time he visited was a month ago during one of Rutgers’ bye weeks to check out his old high school play under the lights. Palmyra finished 5-5 this season, including a 28-8 victory against rival Burlington City in the season finale.
“I was on the sidelines talking to the coaches and seeing the players,” Pratt said. “They’re so small there, they’re like little kids. I could have never been this small.”
But Pratt, who started playing football when he was five years old, was in their shoes when all he wanted was a chance at the Division I level.
Four years later, it is something he never takes for granted because of the place he calls home.
“A lot of people doubted me from where I came from,” Pratt said. “Palmyra, it’s a small school. I had a great career, I took full advantage of it and I’m happy with everything.”