WATCH: Georgia OL signee Cameron Kinnie ready to tackle dream opportunity
SUWANEE, Ga. — Cameron Kinnie is well aware Georgia has six other offensive line signees in this 2020 class.
He knows that with a 3-star, 1,626 national ranking — per the 247Sports composite — the odds would appear to be against him playing.
But the only thing that added up for this Collins Hill High School 4.0 student, who was trying to decide between offers from the U.S. Air Force Academy and Army’s West Point Military Academy before UGA called, was following his dream.
“You talk about that chip on your shoulder, I’ve been proving people wrong my whole life,” the 6-foot-3, 307-pound Kinnie told DawgNation on Wednesday afternoon.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Why are you doing this?’ “ he said. “It’s been a dream to play SEC football, and to have even a chance to make it come true, that makes me want it even more.”
UGA assistant Todd Hartley reached out on Jan. 3, and then Kirby Smart came to the Kinnie’s residence for an in-home visit on Jan. 20 and offered him a scholarship.
Things were happening fast, and the Kinnie’s Jan. 24 official visit locked things up in their minds.
Smart had already decided the scholarship offer was in line. Once a former lightly-recruited in-state product himself, Smart has a knack of knowing what to look for in a player.
Smart not only believes there’s a chance Kinnie can make his dream come true, he’s counting on it.
“We sign based on who gives us the best opportunity to be successful,” Smart said at his National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.
“Cameron Kinnie was a kid we targeted and felt like was, number one, extremely high character, (and) extremely high academically and a really good athlete,” Smart said.
“He played both ways and played at the highest level of football where he played. We’re fortunate to get him to sign with us, and we’re excited about it.”
Regina Kinnie, Cameron’s mother, had the same initial reaction before talking to the UGA coaches that most fans probably do.
“My first impression was, you are getting 5- and 4-star players, and now you are recruiting my son,” Regina told offensive line coach Matt Luke. “What is the probability of him having the opportunity to play?
“He said, ‘Once you get to UGA, it’s not about the stars, it’s about the kids who work the hardest. If he comes in and works hard, he can earn a spot.’ ”
Smart has been telling people that at each turn, even though year after year of No. 1 class rankings might suggest the stars factor into his recruiting equation.
Collins Hill coach Lenny Gregory, an all-conference defensive lineman at BYU in his playing days, says Georgia got a steal.
“We played the toughest teams in the state right here, our region and our non-region, and Cameron has been very dominant,” Gregory said. “You look at his highlight film, and there are guys playing in the SEC that Cameron is finishing. We’re talking five to eight pancakes a game.”
Randy Kinnie aims to do all he can to make sure his son is prepared to get off to a good start with the Bulldogs when he enrolls at the start of June.
“We’ll get all this hoopla out of the way, as far as congratulating him, but starting tomorrow, it’s harder work,” said Randy Kinnie, who played inside linebacker at Jacksonville State University. “It’s getting more flexible, getting him stronger, getting in better shape, and finishing out the year in high school with all As.
“He’s been a straight A student since the ninth grade, so we want to finish that out strong.”
Indeed, the Kinnie’s family saying has been “No A, No Play,” and now its up to Cameron to make the grade on the field in Athens.
Kinnie is expected to compete at center and offensive guard.
There have been others before Kinnie who have made the most of committing on signing day after receiving later offers.
Bulldogs’ great Robert Edwards flipped from Georgia Southern to Georgia on signing day, and Tim Jennings flipped to the Bulldogs from South Carolina State after getting a last-minute offer.