G.J. Kinne of Tulsa, who started at quarterback for the Buckeyes in 2006 after starting at QB from 2003-2005 for the Canton Eagles, signed a contract with the New York Jets Saturday night.
Kinne, a 3-year starter and record-setting quarterback for the Golden Hurricane, agreed to the deal less than an hour after the NFL draft.
Former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington played a role in the Jets’ signing of Kinne, one of the most prolific passers in Texas high school football history.
Here’s how, according to ESPNNewYork.com:
“Kinne prepared for the NFL by training at the TEST Football Academy in Boca Raton, Fla. His instructor was Pennington, and they developed a friendship. G.J. Kinne said the main reason he trained at TEST was because of Pennington, whose game he admired.
“The Jets called Kinne during the sixth round on Saturday and explained that, if they didn’t pick him, they wanted to sign him as a free agent. He also weighed a free-agent offer from the Kansas City Chiefs. Enter Pennington.”
“We really hit it off,” Kinne said Monday in a phone interview with Rich Cimini of ESPN NewYork.com. “We talked through the whole draft. He told me, ‘If the Jets really want you, I’d jump on it.’”
And so he did. On Thursday, Kinne will report to the Jets’ rookie minicamp.
“He was one of the quarterbacks I always looked up to,” Kinne said of Pennington. “When we were together, he got me on the whiteboard and drilled me. On the field, he really helped me with my mechanics.”
Texas Longhorn David Snow, Kinne’s former Gilmer teammate who played for the Buckeyes from 2004-2007, signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Snow was a 4-year letterman for UT who played multiple positions on the offensive line during his career.
“It feels great,” said Snow of his signing. “It’s funny — when I was a child, me and my dad used to watch football games and some of the best ones in my childhood were watching the Bills play in the snow. So it’s kind of cool to get the opportunity to possibly do that. My last name is Snow, so it’s going to be good.
“I like their team. We have [former Longhorns CB] A.J. [Aaron] Williams playing for them, and they are just on the cusp. And I think they are going to be extremely good next year and the year after, and I am just really excited to be a part of it.”
“David Snow is a very smart young man,” said Mack Brown, head coach of the Longhorns. “He played four years for us. He played just about every position. He played a lot at center and both guards. And he’s a guy with his versatility can really help an NFL team.”
Snow appeared in all 52 games over his 4-year career with 32 starts (14 at center, five at right guard, 13 at left guard) and was named first team All-Big 12 (Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News), second team All-Big 12 (AP, Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and honorable mention All-Big 12 (coaches) in 2011. He started all 13 games at left guard in 2011 and started all 12 games at center in 2010. Snow played in 14 games including five starts at right guard in 2009, and appeared in 13 games at center and on special teams, including two starts at center in 2008.
Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor believes both of his former players will make their teams.
“It’s unfortunate David got hurt or I feel like he’d have been drafted, but his calf injury in the all-star game set him back,” said Traylor.
“If he’s healthy, I fully expect him to make the team. That’s just how strong I feel about David.
“And G.J.’s situation, I don’t understand, because I think he’s much better than not being drafted. But he had a great career at Tulsa and he’s got all the intangibles.
“So I expect both the kids to make the team. I know that sounds naive. I sound like their head coach. But that’s how much I believe in both those kids.”
According to the NFL Players Association, “While many young people every year set their goals on becoming NFL players, it is extremely difficult to reach that level. Statistically of the 100,000 high school seniors who play football every year, only 215 will ever make an NFL roster. That is 0.002 percent! Even of the 9,000 players that make it to the college level only 310 are invited to the NFL scouting combine, the pool from which teams make their draft picks. As you can see, most people who want to become NFL players will not. Therefore it is very important to come up with alternative plans for the future.”
There is no doubt that Kinne and Snow HAVE made alternative plans, as both have proven themselves to be true scholars in the classroom as well as stellar athletes on the gridiron.
For now, though, the alternative plans will have to wait. These Buckeyes are still in the running to defy those long odds, hoping to join former Gilmer teammate Curtis Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers on an NFL roster, or at least on a practice squad, as Snow’s former teammate, Manuel “Manny” Johnson, did with the Dallas Cowboys for two seasons (2009 and 2010).
The other former Buckeye who spent some time in the NFL in recent years was Kenneth “Kenny” Pettway, a 2000 GHS graduate who was drafted in the seventh round out of Grambling (La.) State by the Houston Texans in 2005 and who also later played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Green Bay Packers.
The odds on making it to the NFL may be long, but recent history proves your odds improve significantly if you begin your football career as a Gilmer Buckeye.
(Information from ESPNNewYork.com, the Tulsa World, MackBrown-TexasFootball.com and NFLPlayers.com was used in this report.)