VIDEO: Prep Spotlight: Rogers Heritage's Qualls becomes dual sport standout

Posted: November 3, 2017 at 4:02 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/CHARLIE KAIJO Rogers Heritage High School senior Dylan Qualls (15) has been a force for the War Eagles on offense, currently leading the 7A-West Conference in rushing. He has also stood out on defense.
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NWA Democrat-Gazette/CHARLIE KAIJO Rogers Heritage High School senior Dylan Qualls (15) has been a force for the War Eagles on offense, currently leading the 7A-West Conference in rushing. He has also stood out on defense.

ROGERS -- Dylan Qualls wants to play baseball in college, but the Rogers Heritage senior is showing he might have a future in a different sport this fall.

The running back leads the 7A-West Conference in rushing with 956 yards on just 138 carries. That's an average of just under 7 yards per carry.

At A Glance

DYLAN QUALLS

SCHOOL Rogers Heritage

CLASS Senior

HEIGHT 6-foot-1

WEIGHT 185

NOTABLE Currently leads the 7A-West Conference in rushing with 956 yards on 138 carries (6.9 avg.) with five touchdowns to go with 186 yards receiving and another touchdown on 11 catches. … Already topped last year’s season total of 866 yards with 53 fewer carries. … Also earned all-conference honors in baseball last season despite a shoulder injury that limited his innings on the mound, but he hit .339 and played in the outfield for the War Eagles. … Verbally committed to play baseball at Southern Arkansas where he will play in the outfield. … Has rushed for more 2,000 yards in his career at Rogers Heritage. … Has 21 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and a sack in limited snaps at linebacker this season, too.

On The Web

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Heritage football coach Tony Travis said Qualls has become a more patient and mature runner, after a solid junior season.

"He's played a big role for three years, but the biggest things I see is his vision and his ability to use his blockers in front of him," Travis said. "Dylan's an outstanding athlete and a great competitor. You couple those things with some experience running the football and you see he's having an outstanding season.

"You look at his per-carry average, the first thing you think of is you need to get him the ball more."

There's no questioning the amount of trust Travis has in Qualls. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder closed a big night against Van Buren with the game-winning two-point conversion in overtime for Heritage's lone win of the season.

Qualls rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns to go with five solo tackles on defense. One of the touchdowns was a 6-yard run in overtime. He followed that by finding a seam around the left side for the conversion that produced the 29-28 win.

Qualls said he's learned how to run the ball more effectively and utilize his linemen.

"Last year, I didn't know what I was getting myself into running around back there," Qualls said. "I'm focusing more on the concepts of my linemen and following my lead blockers.

"I have a little more trust in my linemen and got to know them a little better."

The numbers bear out his improvement since Qualls has already topped last year's total of 866 rushing yards by almost 100 yards in 53 fewer carries.

Qualls is quick to credit his offensive linemen for opening the holes he's able to run through to earn the league's leading rusher title. That backs up Travis' comments about his humble, coachable attitude.

"He's not the type to come back to the huddle and jump on them," Travis said. "They aren't necessarily a young offensive line, but inexperienced. But everybody knows he's going to run the ball hard. They will work hard for a good teammate."

Travis said Qualls' success isn't ax surprise to anyone who's seen him compete.

"Everybody knows what type of athlete he is even when they see him on the baseball field," Travis said. "What he's doing is no surprise to me at all."

His selfless attitude also shows up in his willingness to play on both offense and defense. Travis has limited Qualls' snaps on defense, but he's made an impact on both sides of the ball.

"The stats don't lie," Travis said."When he's out there on defense, he's getting to the football. He's involved in a lot of tackles in limited snaps. He has a good football I.Q."

He's been in on 21 tackles to go with an interception, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and a sack. And he's happy to do it.

"Oh I was ready for it," Qualls said. "I was excited actually. I kinda wanted to see the other side of the ball, get to hit someone."

But Qualls admits baseball is his love and that's what he will pursue in college. But he was hampered last spring by a shoulder injury that led to injections in lieu of surgery that's worked out well. He still hit .339 and earned all-conference honors playing the outfield for the War Eagles, despite being limited on the mound because of the injury.

"I take them both seriously, but I think I enjoy baseball more," Qualls said.

Travis said Qualls is a good enough athlete that he could play either football or baseball in college and maybe even both.

"He's blessed with a lot of athleticism," Travis said. "He could probably play on our basketball team and I know he could run track. Some colleges have asked about him."

Travis acknowledged the thought was for Qualls and classmate Ty Graser to split time at running back to start the season. But Graser suffered an ankle injury that limited him to defense only. That's worked out well for the War Eagles.

Graser leads Heritage in tackles and has turned into a solid defensive back. And Qualls will try to finish as the league's leading rusher.

Sports on 11/03/2017