“It’s fun to give back, especially in the state of Nebraska. Football is everything there”
A lot is expected of student-athletes in current times. Academic obligations, the demanding hours of practice, balancing a social life that may or may not include philanthropy and recreational community service, all the while trying to become a better football player in hopes of making it to the next level. In the not-so-curious case of Brandon Kinnie, we see an individual who properly exhibits the ability to handle responsibility on many levels. A Grandview, Missouri native, Kinnie has based his young life on improving and being a better role model to his community and family.
The Nebraska graduate leaves Lincoln with a degree in hand and plenty of hours spent volunteering in-state, but the former junior college transfer-turned-Husker is now moving onto the next challenge: preparing for the 2012 NFL Draft. However, like most kids projected to be a late round selection or go undrafted and become a free agent, opportunities are scarce, but the challenge hasn’t prevented Brandon Kinnie from working at his craft.
Kinnie arrived on campus as a Sophomore JUCO from Fort Scott Community College. After a using his first year in division one to get acclimated to the accelerated competition, in his Junior year No. 84 managed a 44 catch, 494 yard, five touchdown season – all career highs – and laid the groundwork for a Senior season with rather lofty expectations. While this past season Kinnie did not live up to his own expectations, he remains optimistic and prepared to return to his 2010 form.
I spoke with Brandon about his jump from junior college to Nebraska, the upcoming NFL Draft, and the Huskers’ move from the Big XII to the Big Ten.
Starting with a football question, how would you define your playing style? Is there anybody you model your game after or believe you’re comparable too?
-“I would describe myself as a physical receiver. I like putting my hands on a defensive back and I also like blocking. I would say Andre Johnson or a Terrell Owens type.”
Do you feel as though you have any particular weaknesses on the field? If so, what have you done to fix them?
-“Just getting better on getting in and out of my route breaks. Also, just focusing on the ball all the way in. Sometimes I try to run before I have the the ball. I’m doing a lot of ladder drills and cone work to get my feet better and I’m catching 200 balls a day.”
When transferring up from Fort Scott Community College, what drew you to Nebraska? How did the program approach you during your recruitment?
-“The coaches and the fans. The coaches were very genuine. They called me every week and not really talked so much about football but just life in general, so that was cool. Being from Kansas City and having a son I didn’t want to be too far from him. So all in all it was a great choice.”
As a family oriented individual, can you tell me a little about how your family has impacted you personally, as well as your football career?
-“It’s always just been me, my mom and two brothers! I’ve always taken the man of the house roll with being the oldest and all. They’ve kept me grounded and humbled through everything. Them and my son are who I do it for. Having a son has taught me that things aren’t just about me anymore. So I’m just trying to set an example that my brothers and son can follow and be proud of.”
Going back to football for a moment, what would you say was the high-point of your collegiate career?
-“Graduating and winning two Big XII North championships.”
You’ve been with Bo Pellini your entire career at Nebraska. What can you tell me about coach that the public may not already know?
-“Bo isn’t as mean as everybody thinks. It’s just black and white with him. He is a man that has the best interest of his players in mind. He has his players’ back, so you can’t argue that. Glad I got the privilege to play for him.”
The team made the transition from the Big XII to the Big Ten this year. What were things like, both before and after the switch? Also, did Bo do or say anything in particular to prepare you for the move?
-“We didn’t really change anything. It’s just football and we understood that’s what it is. All he really said is we were going to have to be a little more physical as a football team.”
Now your most productive year came as a junior, but your senior year maybe didn’t go as planned. How did you approach your senior season with the higher expectations and why do you think your production dipped?
-“Yeah It didn’t go as planned. I looked too much into it. Feeling like I had to be a leader and the best wide receiver on the field, feeling like I had to have 7 (catches) 140 (yards) and 2 (touchdowns) every game and that wasn’t the case. I was just pressing too hard at times, but I’ve learned a lot about myself this year and things I would have to do in the future.”
Moving on to some draft questions, what else have you been doing to prepare for it? Training with anybody?
-“Just the usual – lifting and speed work. I’m working out with (Indiana wide receiver) DeAundre Muhammad, (Bowling Green cornerback) Adrien Spencer, (Toledo defensive lineman) Malcolm Riley, (Indiana wide receiver) Damarlo Belcher.”
What are your expectations entering the draft and what will you be doing that weekend?
-“Everybody wants to get drafted, so hopefully that happens for me. If I continue to keep working like I am, I will be fine. And nothing to much, just relaxing with family.”
Have you received any special advice from anyone regarding the draft?
-“Just focusing has been the main piece of advice.”
I’ve read that you’re a sociology major. Why did you choose the field and what aspirations do you have?
-“Hopefully I won’t have to use my degree for awhile, but I like working with people. I like talking and meeting new people. I wouldn’t mind being a police officer or a guidance counselor for kids.”
I know you’re active in volunteer work. Can you tell me a little more about that?
-“It’s fun to give back, especially in the state of Nebraska. Football is everything there, so when kids and elderly people see you take time of your schedule to come see them it is truly a blessing.”
Favorite food? Song?
-“Favorite food would have to be chicken and tacos. I’ve got a lot of favorite songs but one of my most recent is ‘Ambition’ by Wale ft. Meek Mill and Rick Ross.”
Finally, do you have a memorable quote that you’d like to share?
-“That’s a good question! ‘Be a beast!’ my junior college coach Jeff Sims told me.”
Follow me on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate
Check out Brandon’s Twitter: @BKinnie84