Final farewell: G.J. Kinne's dedication, work ethic praised he suits up for last TU game
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Thursday, December 29, 2011
12/29/11 at 1:38 PM
Related Story: TU notebook: Needing a win
FORT WORTH - G.J. Kinne packed up his belongings and departed Tulsa right before Christmas.
His adopted home city for nearly four years will not be forgotten by a Golden Hurricane quarterback who etched his name in the football record book.
"It was pretty emotional leaving," Kinne said after a recent practice for Friday's Armed Forces Bowl game against BYU. "I'll come back to pro day on March 3, but probably won't be back until I come back and visit.
"It was different and I'm leaving some friends behind, but I'm ready to embark on a new journey."
Kinne graduated from Tulsa and now has NFL dreams. But first there is the business of Friday's 11 a.m. bowl game , which will be played at SMU's Ford Stadium.
Kinne will start his 38th consecutive game for Tulsa. His career includes the 2010 Conference USA offensive player of the year award and 23 victories. He ranks second in school history for career total offensive yards and touchdown passes and third in all-time passing yardage.
Is this the type of career that he anticipated when he transferred from Texas in the summer of 2008?
"I just really came here because I wanted to get on the field and play," Kinne said. "Winning the conference player of the year last year and all the success we've had, even this year, and the friendships I made, it's a lot more than I expected."
Kinne's battles against adversity are well-documented. He witnessed the survival of his father and high school football coach, Gary Joe Kinne, following a shooting by an angry parent.
Kinne had to move to a different high school in his senior season and then left Texas after being caught behind the Longhorns' Colt McCoy at quarterback.
"With everything that's gone on with G.J., I commend him for staying strong and staying positive and persevering through everything," senior linebacker Curnelius Arnick said. "He's grown and developed into a great man. In turn, he's developed into a great athlete as well. I just commend him for the things he's done throughout the course of his life."
At Tulsa, he went through two head coaches and four offensive coordinators in his four seasons. Yet he continued to excel.
"G.J. has had a tremendous run for a guy that got caught in some unusual circumstances," TU coach Bill Blankenship said. "If you think about all the different coaches that he's played for and different coordinators and quarterback coaches, it takes a mentally strong and physically strong person to grow like that.
"It says a lot for G.J. that he's playing his best in his senior year. As his college career is coming to a close, I think we're seeing the best G.J. has been."
Kinne has been a role model for the football team. Offensive lineman Matt Romine, a Notre Dame transfer, was only on the squad one year but saw the respect that Kinne commanded.
"It's how he came to work every day," senior Matt Romine said. "I've been around guys that, sometimes, don't come to work. Over the summer, we had voluntary workouts with the players after strength and conditioning work. (G.J.) was always in the forefront setting that up. That's one of the main things, how he comes to work every day."
Kinne's leadership isn't only limited to teammates. He's been a strong figure to his younger brothers, McLane and Landry, and his sister, Kelli.
His mother, Jocelyne Carter, seems more impressed that her son was a three-time Conference USA Football All-Academic selection and how it rubs off on her 15-year-old son McLane, a quarterback at Gilmer High School.
"G.J.'s example in the classroom ... with McLane, it's ingrained in him that that's what he'll do," Carter said. "G.J. showed that you have to make your grades and go to college."
Gary Joe Kinne agreed.
"(G.J.) has really grown up, and I couldn't be more proud of him," he said. "My son Landry looks up to him. ... He's doing it by example on the field and in the classroom."
It's not something taken lightly by Kinne.
"They see what they see (on the field)," Kinne said. "But off the field, I make good grades. I just try to be a good person and help people out. ... Their big brother isn't only a football player, but needs to give back."
Kinne said he loves his family's support.
"It's very special to me that they come to all of my games," Kinne said. "My grandpa has been at every game. He'd come to every practice if it weren't in Tulsa. He coached me when I was little and took me to all of my baseball games when I was little.
"It's not just my parents, but all the people in my family, from aunts to uncles and grandparents. All the people have been supportive."
Many will be in the stands for Kinne's final college football game. Afterward, concentration turns to his NFL dream.
Many mock drafts have Kinne as a late-round draft pick or a free-agent selection. That doesn't matter, Kinne said. All he wants is a chance.
"He's going to get an opportunity at the next level," said Gary Joe Kinne. "That's all you can ask for. Whether he is drafted or not drafted, he's going to get a chance and someone will take a chance. He's well prepared...
"There's no time to rest. You have to go to work. You end one chapter and start another chapter. You have to prove yourself all over again."
Kinne's eager for his final Tulsa game.
"It's going to be very special, not just wearing the Tulsa uniform, but the last time I play with guys like Curnelius Arnick, Tyler Holmes and Clay Sears," he said. "It will mean a lot."
KINNE’S TOP PERFORMANCES
1. Tulsa 28, Notre Dame 27
(Oct. 30, 2010)
G.J. Kinne led a game-winning drive with 3:23
remaining to boost TU to a big road win. Kinne’s
31-yard pass on third-and-26 was the key play
on the final drive.
2. Tulsa 62, Hawaii 35 (Dec. 24, 2010)
The quarterback threw for 343 yards and
three touchdowns as the Hurricane routed
No. 24 Hawaii on its home field in the Hawaii
Bowl. Tulsa ended the season ranked No. 24 in
the AP poll.
3. Tulsa 28, Houston 25 (Nov. 13, 2010)
Kinne raced for a career-high 190 rushing
yards and threw for 154 more as the visiting
Hurricane avenged a last-second loss to the
Cougars in the 2009 season.
4. Tulsa 33, Memphis 30, OT
(Nov. 27, 2009)
Kinne led a late charge, throwing a 2-yard
touchdown pass to Trae Johnson with 30
seconds left in regulation to tie the game. It
snapped a six-game losing streak for TU.
5. Tulsa 56, Southern Miss 50
(Nov. 26, 2010)
Kinne accounted for six touchdowns and had
a career-high 406 passing yards in the regularseason
finale. Kinne had four scoring passes and
also added a pair of touchdown runs.
Original Print Headline: Final farewell
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391
Friday's Armed Forces Bowl will be quarterback G.J. Kinne's last game at TU. JEFF LAUTENBERGER / Tulsa World