Philadelphia, PA – It is rare to see two of the best in the nation at their position share the field in any college football game.
Last month, attendees of the Appalachian State-Elon game were fortunate enough to see two of the best in Southern Conference history put on a show.
Appalachian State's Brian Quick and Elon's Aaron Mellette combined to catch 25 balls for 386 yards and three touchdowns. It was one of the best battles between receivers in recent memory, one that is unlikely to be topped in the near future.
"It might be an once-in-a-lifetime experience," Mellette said. "We love to compete. I've seen him go out there and make plays for his team and I know I'm going to come out there and do the same thing for my team. It was a battle.
"Unfortunately, we were on the losing end, but it was still fun to watch him make plays in clutch moments and then turn around and try to do the same thing."
Quick, considered by many to be the top 2012 NFL Draft choice from the FCS, holds many receiving records at ASU. Mellette, according to an Elon coordinator who worked at Alabama last season, would have been good enough to start opposite Julio Jones. He broke former teammate Terrell Hudgins' single- season receiving yards record this year with 1,639 yards.
The scary part about Quick is how raw he is. The 6-foot-5 receiver played football for just one year in high school, but his coach said there was enough to see a star in the making in the limited playing time.
"When we saw him on his high school tapes, we were taken back by his ability as a receiver," Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore said. "He's had four really nice years. He's a hard worker. He didn't have that kind of work ethic when he first came here. ... As he began to have some success, he was more motivated to (come in) during the summers, to lift and do the things and now that he's beginning to get a little bit of the attention from the pro scouts, I think he's fed off that."
There is also the fact that Quick has been able to put up such big numbers in a run-first offense. Going into Saturday's second-round playoff match-up against Maine, Quick's career numbers stand up with just about anyone in the country: 195 receptions, 3,377 yards and 31 touchdowns.
"We've had some good receivers here, but we haven't had one with all the tools he's got," Moore said. "He's got really good speed, he's got height and really fine concentration - he's made a lot of difficult catches here. He's probably the best receiver we've had here since I've been here.
"I've coached at Nebraska, at SMU and places like that. ... When you think of where he came from, that's the exciting thing because he didn't have that kind of background as a football player and we were one of the few people to recruit him."
Quick is currently projected to be a third- or fourth-round NFL pick, thanks to his height and a 4.5-second clocking in the 40-yard dash. But he has one more goal to check off his list before he can focus on the NFL Draft: to bring the national championship back to Appalachian State.
Though his name isn't as well known yet as Quick's, Mellette has done an excellent job of his own for Elon. Coming into the 2010 season, he had the unenviable job of trying to replace Hudgins, Elon's record-setting wide receiver. Since then, Mellette, a 6-4 junior, has been spectacular.
In 2010, he led the Phoenix with 86 catches for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns. This season, without record-setting quarterback Scott Riddle, Mellette went to an even higher level, catching 113 passes for 1,639 yards and 12 touchdowns.
"That means a lot," he said of leading the nation in catches and yards. "It was a goal I set for myself. ... I didn't think I was going to do this year. That was something I was going to focus on my senior year in my last go around. It's still something really cool to achieve."
Mellette, like many great receivers, also was quick to deflect credit away from himself.
"I owe (my season) to my coaching staff and my teammates," he said. "They believed in me and they put me in situations where I can make plays. ... Injuries early in the season forced me to increase my role and do more for the team."
He has been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best in the business and, in hopes of making it to the NFL one day, looks to continue to do so. He admitted to taking a lot from Hudgins.
"You can't do wrong to learn from one of the best to have ever done it," Mellette said. "He didn't pass me all his secrets, but he gave me enough to where I can have a great career.
Now, he is hoping to get a few pointers from Quick as well.
"I talked with him after the last game, trying to see if we can get together in the offseason and work out," he said. "I know he's going to be busy with draft stuff, but I'm going to try to get in touch with him and work out with him."
Perhaps fans will be lucky enough to see a rematch of their fantastic battle at the NFL level one day.