Antonio Kinard, the 6'4" 210 pound defensive end/linebacker from Liberty High School (OH) was finally able to take his official visit to Michigan a week ago, and he had quite the experience.
"I experienced going around and looking at more of the campus. I got the chance to talk to some of the coaches more one-on-one instead of just over the phone. I talked to some of the other recruits who are coming up to Michigan about playing with them. And just eating a lot!"
Kinard got to spend quite some time with his former teammate from Liberty, Michigan's red-shirt freshman running back Fitzgerald Touissaint.
"Fitzgerald Touissaint (was my host). We just were going to the dorms, chilling and listening to music. We'd get out a little and walk some of the streets and he showed me some restaurants, like where they would eat at or where they'd usually hang out."
Kinard also got to spend some time getting to know his future teammates and classmates that were on their official visits as well.
"I met Devin Gardner, Ray Vinopal and you know I met D.J. (Williamson) from Warren. I met the real tall dude, Davion (Rogers), and he told me he was playing linebacker, and I was like, he ain't playing no linebacker when he come up here. He's just so tall and lanky. I mean come on now, you 6'6"? You a straight up wide receiver, boy (laughing)!"
Kinard also spent some time with current Wolverines.
"I actually got a chance to talk to Brandon Graham and "Shoelace" (Denard) Robinson… I hung out with those cats. I hung out with Shoelace a lot."
There had been talk that there was quite a bit of competition between everyone in Shoelace's dorm when it came to video games. Kinard, for his part, was not bashful about his performance.
"Oh yes, most definitely. Oh man… Antonio Kinard has to be one of the baddest boys on the sticks. Go ahead and let that be known. I took down ... actually, my boy Fitz was playing and I took Fitz down with no problem. I was Oklahoma. D.J. then got on the sticks and he tried. It wasn't even happening. I was like 4-0 up there, nobody could beat me!"
Outside of the fun they were having, the current Wolverines had some deeper things to say about what it's like to don the Maize and Blue.
"It was crazy man. When we were at the UConn basketball game, BG was just telling me when we ran out on the court, ‘Man when you come up here, they win these games, you get to do this every time. This is the life.' He told me when he came up he didn't know what to expect, but Michigan just took him in as family and we had the environment and atmosphere, and Michigan was just the perfect place to be. And Shoelace was just telling me that he felt so comfortable just being here, and that everyone is his family up here. He said that's why he's never homesick."
Kinard also got to spend some time with the coaches, who were on top of Kinard about what's really important as a student-athlete.
"They want me to stay focused academic-wise. They definitely want me to stay focused on that before I go crazy playing for Michigan. They also said, if I can, to try and gain about 10-15 pounds, which I've been doing. I've gained about five pounds so far. They told me to just stay in the weight room, stay on my books, and that they can't wait to have me up there."
A week away from National Signing Day, and Kinard is extremely anxious to put his name to his letter of intent.
"Man, it's just crazy. Words can't even explain it. I'm just ready to sign, man, and getting this over with. Everybody's been asking if I've been having second thoughts, and man, heck no I'm not having second thoughts. I wish I could just get the papers right now! It's just the Michigan tradition, the most wins of any program in the nation, playing in the biggest stadium in the country, and that's crazy. And having a real good education at the same time. It's just the right place to be. I mean, who wouldn't want to go to that school?"
There were some initial questions about Kinard's academic standing; however, he himself is claiming to be just one step away from being fully qualified. That step is something Kinard is taking quite seriously.
"Oh yeah, my core is all good and my ACT's are cool. I just have to pass my OGT's (the State of Ohio graduation test) to qualify. I'm taking those in March, and I have tutors that I'm seeing every single day starting tomorrow. They said that every student that came in the office that were concerned about OGT's, passed. So they were saying it was a guarantee that I'm going to pass regardless. The only thing is that you have to want it, and I told them: hey, I'm going to be in the office everyday on this computer, reading over these questions."
"Words can't even explain" Kinard's feelings
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