“I’ve honestly never seen someone who loves football as much as Quinn does.”
Those were the first words out of Penn sprint football senior defensive back Tom Tyrell’s mouth when describing his best friend and teammate, senior linebacker Quinn Karam.
From the moment he got accepted to Penn, few have matched the work ethic and drive of the five-foot-seven, 178 pound linebacker.
After hearing of his admission to Penn in December of his senior year in high school, Karam immediately began to lose weight in order to be able to suit up for the Quakers. In the Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL), all players are required to weigh under 178 pounds in order to be eligible to play.
Karam weighed 210 pounds when he got accepted to Penn.
“I was running close to ten miles every other day and I was doing abs as much as I could,” Karam said. “I had been in contact with one of the players here who told me about the diet that the trainer had them on. He got me set up on the diet that they were using. It made [losing weight] a lot easier for me.”
The hard work paid off for Karam, who earned honorable mention All-CSFL as a freshman linebacker. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Karam continued his high level of production, garnering honorable mention All-CSFL again as a sophomore, and second-team All-CSFL as a junior.
This season the senior captain and four-year starter helps anchor a unit that has only surrendered 11.6 points per game, good for second in the league behind Army. He also leads the Quakers' defense in fumble recoveries and fumble recoveries for touchdowns.
Still, Karam is worth more to Penn sprint football than just his statistics.
“He’s a very vocal leader,” freshman linebacker Connor Ashton said of his captain. “He’s always going very hard at practice, making sure everyone on the defense is on the same page in terms of their assignments.”
Karam’s leadership has made a particular impact on Ashton, who before this season had never played linebacker.
“He helped a lot with my responsibilities and just showing me what to do in the concepts,” Ashton reflected. “More importantly, he just made me feel comfortable within the linebacker unit and on the team in general.”
However, Karam may have never played suited up for the Red and Blue if it were not for another Penn sprint football legend: running back Mike Beamish.
When Karam was a freshman at Abington Heights high school, Beamish, a senior, was the team’s star quarterback and punter. In fact, Beamish even gave up opportunities to punt at the Division I level to play for Penn sprint football.
“My brother was close friends with him and he ended up telling me about what Beamish was doing. I thought it was really cool,” Karam said. “I loved the University of Pennsylvania and it was one of my favorite schools since I was younger. So when I found out that there would be an opportunity for me to play there rather than going to D-II or D-III ball, I definitely was interested.”
Once Karam had expressed interest in playing lightweight football, Beamish put him in contact with head coach Bill Wagner. Once it was clear Wagner was interested in him, Karam made up his mind that he wanted to be a Quaker.
When Beamish graduated in 2015, he left as the program as its third all-time leading rusher. But his greatest gift to the program may have been Karam.
“I don’t think I would have known about sprint football if it weren’t for Mike,” Karam explained.
This week, Penn welcomes Navy on Friday in a de-facto South Division championship game. The winner is slotted to take on the North Division champion (likely Army, but possibly Cornell) in the first-ever CSFL championship game.
After an uninspiring performance as a team against Army earlier in the season, Karam and the Quakers relish another chance to defend last year's title.
“I would definitely say this game’s got extra meaning for me being a senior,” Karam said. “If we win this game I get to play one more football game and I never want to stop playing football.”
Besides his commitment to his team on the field, Karam is equally committed to using sprint football’s resources to help him off the field. The all-CSFL linebacker is also a political science major with plans to attend law school when he graduates in the spring. With these lofty aspirations in mind, Karam is using the variety of resources available to him as a Penn sprint football player.
“Every player on the sprint football team has a mentor who we stay in contact with through email that are all either in our major or have the same job interests,” Karam said.
Karam’s mentor is Adam Smiley (C’02), a three time all-CSFL offensive lineman who now works as a Senior Attorney for Consolidated Edison after attending American University Washington College of Law.
“He’s been helpful when it came to talking about how to apply for law school, and what to do with the LSAT’s,” Karam said.
On and off the field, Karam has taken advantage of the resources available to Penn sprint football players.
Even considering all he has accomplished, Karam will take away much more from Penn sprint football than his individual accolades.
“I could never give you [my favorite sprint football memory] from my own playbook because the moments we remember are the ones where we did it as a team,” Karma said. “All of my best friends that I have met, the kids that I know I’m going to be hanging out with the rest of my life, are all kids on my team,”
By his own admission, he is not one the biggest, fastest, or strongest guys on the team, but his infectious love for the game and his ability to be a leader will forever keep Karam in sprint football lore.
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