Quincy Enunwa has no excuses.
His family made sure of that.
His Nigerian-born parents were forced to rebuild their careers and their lives after emigrating to America shortly before he was born. But it was only recently that Enunwa, 24, began to fully grasp the depths of their sacrifice and their struggle.
“It’s huge. That’s kind of what drives me,” said the Jets receiver. “They came here, got their schooling. So I don’t have any excuse.
“That’s something that pushes me, not even consciously but subconsciously, I think,” said Enunwa, who as a fifth-grader lived in Nigeria for a month with his family. “Now it’s like, I know what they went through and I have no excuse. I’ve got to do great things. I have to take advantage of what they’ve given me. Because I could be over there and not necessarily be in a bad position, but not as good of a position as I am now.”
The emergence of the 2014 sixth-round pick last year was a pleasant surprise for fans, and his presence on the field Sunday against the Seahawks (2-1) will be a sigh of relief for many. With playmaker Eric Decker ruled out for the game — and possibly longer — with a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder and rookie Jalin Marshall out several weeks with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, the Jets’ receiving corps suddenly is thin.
And that means the 6-2, 225-pound Enunwa could be an even bigger piece of the offense.
“I have the same mindset I had last year, in terms of being a team player, so I’m not going to be upset if I don’t get the ball,” he said. “But any time that I have a chance to get the ball, I want to be as selfish as possible.”
And when he’s “feeling hot,” he makes sure to let quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and receivers coach Karl Dorrell know.
“I don’t ever want to take away from anybody else because we have some playmakers around me,” he said. “But if things are going slow, I want to be a spark, I want to be that guy that can help out the offense and kind of get us going.”
Decker, the Jets’ best red-zone threat last season, leads the team in receiving yards (194), but Enunwa has more catches (17) than Brandon Marshall (12) and Decker (nine). He also had a breakout game (six catches, 92 yards) in the Jets’ Week 2 win over the Bills.
“He worked at a lot of things that he wasn’t very good at a year ago — his lateral quickness, his hands and, obviously, building up, playing faster. He’s done all of that,” coach Todd Bowles said of his hybrid receiver/tight end. “We have all the confidence in the world in him.”
But past drops still bother Enunwa.
He can’t remember the exact quarters, but he remembers how he felt each time. “I probably know the exact spot of every drop I had last year,” he said. “If I could go back to the last game, Buffalo [in Week 17], I dropped a ball on a screen. If I go back to the Patriots game [in Week 6], I dropped a ball on a go route [with 37 seconds left in regulation]. I could go all the way. And those are the types of things that fuel me.”
He often talks to Bowles “about body language” and discusses the importance of “emotional intelligence” with Brandon Marshall. “So when you have a bad play,” he said, “you’ve got to be able to go to the next one.”
His four-game suspension last season for violating the NFL personal-conduct policy derailed his progress. The punishment stemmed from a “domestic violence simple assault charge,” according to the arrest report from Florham Park police, after an alleged altercation with his then-girlfriend in a hotel room. According to the prosecution, the woman chose not to pursue the charges and the domestic-violence charge was dropped.
Though he’s shied away from discussing any details, Enunwa acknowledged that he learned “so many things” from the experience. “You’ve just got to be smarter,” he said. “I’m in a position where a lot of people are watching what I’m doing and the decisions that I make. I’ve got to make better decisions.”
Although he’s been a role player throughout his career, Enunwa’s confidence hasn’t wavered.
“Every year, no matter what, I always have a mindset that I’m here to stay,” he said. “Always.”