When Orlando Predators defensive coordinator Lee Johnson was hired last October to coach San Antonio's new Arena Football League team, one of the first players he approached about following him to Texas was Predators wide receiver Robert Quiroga.
Johnson didn't have to ask twice.
"It worked out great," Quiroga said after a workout this week. "L.J. was defensive coordinator of the Predators the two years I was in Orlando, so we got to know each other very well. He's always had my back and seen the way I play the game and how I approach it every day.
"He knows what type of player I am and definitely wanted me to be a part of this team. When he got the job here in San Antonio, he wanted me to come with him. Being that this is my hometown, it was an easy decision for me to want to come here and play at home."
A 2000 Holmes High School graduate, Quiroga was a football and track standout for the Huskies before going on to a four-year career as a wide receiver at Baylor.
Signing Quiroga, 30, to a contract with the San Antonio Talons was a no-brainer for Johnson.
"I knew this was his hometown and he's also a tremendous player," Johnson said. "He had played hard for me for two years and put up great numbers playing with a couple of great wide receivers. He wasn't a big name, but he put up the numbers. I knew that once I was coming here, I had to have him here with me."
Quiroga has not disappointed Johnson, catching 29 passes for 414 yards and 10 touchdowns in the five games he's played in. He also sees spot duty at linebacker, just as he did in Orlando.
Talons face Chicago Rush in key game Saturday at Alamodome
Quiroga will be in the lineup when the Talons (3-3) entertain the Chicago Rush (5-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome. The Rush lead the Talons by two games in the AFL's Central Division.
The Predators' leading receiver last year, Quiroga started this season slowly before hitting his stride two weeks ago when he caught 10 passes for 140 yards and five TDs in a 62-48 victory against the New Orleans before a crowd of 10,034 at the Alamodome.
Quiroga followed that sterling performance with 10 receptions for 133 yards and two TDs in a 68-34 road loss to Arizona last week.
"Robert does everything well," Johnson said. "He's very consistent. He's not the fastest, he's not the flashiest or quickest, but he's always in the right spot. He knows how to get open and he catches all the balls.
"Some of those things you can't measure. They can measure his 40. They can measure his arm length, but you can't measure his heart and how hard he competes."
Quiroga, 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, was a three-year starter at Baylor and finished his career with 131 catches for 1,478 yards and nine TDs. Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens in 2004, Quiroga was released by the team before training camp.
Still determined to continue his football career, he played with the Ottawa Renegades in the Canadian Football League in 2005. A year later, Quiroga signed with the AFL's Los Angeles Avengers and played with the team until the AFL suspended operations in 2009.
It wasn't a wasted season for Quiroga, though. He found a new home in 2009 with the Austin Turfcats of the Southern Indoor Football League.
Quiroga has degree from Baylor
When the AFL resumed operations in 2010, Quiroga signed with Orlando and played with the Predators until he joined the Talons.
Quiroga said that arena ball presents different challenges than playing on a traditional football field.
"The game is a lot faster," Quiroga said. "Things are going to happen very quickly when you're out there, so you have to be able to adjust to the speed of the game and know you're going to run out of space quickly.
"It's a matter of understanding the game, understanding the angles of the game and being able to use that to your advantage, especially if you're a receiver. You have to be able to read things on the run."
Quiroga graduated from Baylor with a degree in business marketing and has a second career with New York Life, working in financial services.
"I'm able to help people in many aspects," Quiroga said. "It's something that I'm passionate about, helping people with their futures. I feel that I'm doing something good for somebody else, setting them up for what they want to be able to accomplish with their goals financially."
Quiroga's goal is to get another shot with NFL team
Quiroga said it's been "phenomenal" to have the opportunity to continue his football career in his hometown.
"It's great to represent the city of San Antonio, which has shown support for me all these years that I've played football," he said. "Being able to see all my family and friends out here is truly a blessing, because a lot of them hadn't seen me play since I was in high school. It's something I cherish deeply."
Quiroga credits his parents, Sally and Robert Quiroga, for instilling the values that have helped him succeed on and off the field. Another person who has influenced Quiroga greatly is former NFL star receiver Harold Jackson, who coached him at Baylor.
"He's a great friend," Quiroga said of Jackson. "We stay in contact. We talk at least every other week. He's been really big on me continuing with my career, and basically doing the best I can with my God-given gifts."
Quiroga's ultimate goal is to get another shot in the NFL.
"I've love to have another opportunity to go out there and prove myself again, and showing that I'm capable of competing at such a high level," he said. "As far as how long I'll keep playing, that remains to be seen. But as of right now, my body feels great. I do a good job of keeping up with my health, and my training and conditioning.
"If I can still continue to play, I'll keep playing. Eventually, I know that clock is going to run out and it'll be time to move on. But until then, I'm going to continue to compete and have fun and do the best I can out there."