Although University of Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne, Creek, wasn’t looking ahead during a tough, last-second 24-21 loss to BYU in the Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas on December 30, he can now. Despite the disappointing close to his collegiate career, Kinne’s special combination of passing and running skills has NFL scouts interested.
In his three years as Tulsa’s starting quarterback, after transferring from the University of Texas in 2008, Kinne amassed 9,469 yards passing and 81 touchdowns against just 32 interceptions. Remarkably, he led the team in rushing as a sophomore and a junior. The 2010 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, Kinne led the Golden Hurricane to three consecutive bowl game appearances, including a 52-24 thumping of Tulane in the 2009 GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and a 62-35 thrashing of the University of Hawaii in the 2010 Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu. That year Kinne completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,650 yards and 31 touchdowns, and rushed for 561 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Although a left knee injury suffered on Tulsa’s third offensive possession in their September 17 game against eigth-ranked Oklahoma State temporarily slowed Kinne, he didn’t miss a start all season and finished with more than 3,000 yards passing and 28 touchdowns, while rushing for 405 yards and 3 touchdowns. Any concerns about a lingering problem with his left knee were squashed after recently clocking a 40-yard-dash time of 4.75 seconds.
Scouts.com has Kinne ranked as the thirteenth best quarterback prospect available in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft. At 6-foot-two-inches, Kinne doesn’t have prototypical size for an NFL quarterback, but he’s a sturdy 234 pounds. Scouting reports highlight Kinne’s superb athleticism, leadership abilities and work ethic. Further, he has the ability to make plays with his feet and arm—a true dual threat.
Most experts are projecting Kinne to be picked late in the draft, probably in the seventh and final round, or else sign on with a team as a free agent before training camps open in late summer. To bolster his resume and showcase his skills, Kinne participated in two All-Star games this month, including the Casino del Sol College All-Star Game on January 16 in Tucson and the NFLPA Bowl in Carson, California on January 21. His best chance to move up the charts will be at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis from February 22 to 28. More than 300 of the top college prospects will be invited to the combine, where they’ll undergo intense evaluations—from physical to psychological—by the NFL’s 32 teams.
No matter what NFL team Kinne lands with, there’s one thing he’s sure to miss from his Tulsa days: The camaraderie of fellow American Indian teammates, as there are few Native pro players. In addition to Kinne, however, just a few of the other Native members of the Tulsa football program include tight end Clay Sears, Delaware; linebacker Shawn Jackson, Creek; linebacker Chris Hummingbird, Kiowa; and running backs coach Clint Rountree, Cherokee. Proud of their heritage, these players are enthusiastic ambassadors for their Native cultures, and the team’s recent successes and nationally televised bowl appearances have elevated the platform. Kinne moving to the NFL is another big step forward.
The Tulsa World reports that Kinne only recently learned that he was Creek, and that he’s eager to learn more about his heritage. Before the Armed Forces Bowl, he told the World, “It has been very exciting. Being in Tulsa, with the Creeks being so strong in this area, it’s awesome. I’m hopeful, after the season, I can learn even more.” And he’s making a difference. “I’ve gotten some feedback from other (American Indians) that said they are now Tulsa fans because of that. That’s something that’s very special to me.”
You can bet he’ll be very special for one lucky NFL team this fall.