Fresno State has continued to recruit offensive lineman after offensive lineman during this recruiting cycle. The latest such commitment is Cypress (TX.) Cypress Ranch OT Zachary Kinninger. Kinninger checks in at 6-foot-5, 303-pounds of all man and is just what offensive line coach Cameron Norcross is looking for up-front.
Kinninger is the fourth commitment from Texas in this cycle and the second offensive lineman from the Lone Star State. Additionally, Kinninger keeps the theme bigger, longer, and more athletic lineman going. Kinninger liked what he’d seen from Fresno State and felt that the fit would be a good one. Rather than wonder what it would be like to play for a top team, Kinninger decided to take his spot now before someone else came along and took the spot for which he’d worked so hard.
“Honestly, I was just thinking about what was best for my future,” Kinninger said. “I really liked their coaching staff and the goals at Fresno State. I thought it would be good to commit now and have a place I want to go to instead of being left out later and not having a choice.”
While he hasn’t had the chance to talk with Coach Norcross over the phone, that’s something the two of them will accomplish September starts. Right now the two have just been bonding over his upcoming official visit and all the work they’re going to be able to accomplish together. As for when that official visit is going to take place, that’s still a work in progress. But the good news is that they’ve narrowed down some ideas and now it’s just a matter of figuring out which of them will actually work out for both parties.
“We haven’t got to talk on the phone yet, but we’ve been messaging back and forth,” Kinninger said. “I think he’s going to call me once they can, which is September first. But he’s just been telling me how excited he is to have me aboard and he can’t wait to get me up there for an official visit. I’d really love to go to the Nebraska game. I don’t know if it will work out because it’s so early in the season, but if that doesn’t work out, as of now, I’m pretty sure we have the Wyoming game scheduled.”
Kinninger might be a bigger guy, but he’s worked extremely hard to maintain his athleticism and ability to move in space. As a matter of fact, his athleticism is one of the biggest reasons the Bulldogs recruited him. College football is shifting to an age of versatility and Coach Norcross is looking to start his best five, regardless of the position listed next to their name in the media guide. Accepting the challenge to play anywhere on Norcross’ line is something all his commits agree to do and Kinninger is no different.
“I pride myself on being not just a big guy, but being an athlete too,” Kinninger said. “Whenever I talked to coach Peterson, he said that he thinks I’m so athletic that I could play any position they need me to. I’m willing to play anywhere for Fresno State that they need me to so we can continue winning championships and make the program bigger and bigger than it already is.”
Even though Kinninger is prepared to play any position thrown his way, he does have a preference. While you’d normally think that someone his size would favor playing the left tackle position, Kinninger actually favors the right side. The reason for this is because Kinninger feels like you get the best of both worlds on the right side of the line. Most defenses are forced to move and disguise elite pass-rushers, so he knows he will see them on the right side. But at the same time, many offenses favor running the football to the right side and Kinninger loves to hit the man across from him when he’s run-blocking. Blocking for the run might be one of Kinninger’s favorite things to do on the field, actually.
“Through my high school career I’ve been moved from left to right tackle,” Kinninger said. “But I’ve been playing right tackle through my sophomore year, so this will be my third year playing right tackle. I prefer right tackle. You still get just as good pass rushers on the right side compared to the left. The right side, especially where I play, is more of a run dominant side of the line. That’s what I love doing in football is running the ball.”
Kinninger’s physical style of play is also something that played a significant factor in his decision to pick Fresno State. Coming from a state where some of the high school weight rooms are more elaborate than some California collegiate programs, the new facility upgrades played a critical role in Kinninger’s belief that Fresno State could help him achieve his dreams. Any kid coming from out-of-state is going to want to make sure that the program has the resources to help him realize his dreams and Fresno’s State’s commitment to winning through upgrades proved to Kinninger that this was indeed the case.
“It was a big deal,” Kinninger said. “My sophomore year I really got in the weight room and this offseason too. The weight room has helped me become the athlete and the good offensive lineman I am today and without that I wouldn’t be where I am today. So I’m looking forward to pushing myself, especially at the collegiate level where they have way more assets, tools, knowledge and time. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can get out of me and how good of a football player I can be.”
As for the strength of his commitment, Kinninger is very solid on Fresno State at this time. He admits that he’s not going to shut things down permanently, but he said he’s going to be extremely hard for a school to come in this late in the program and catch up to Fresno State. They’ve been a loyal program to Kinninger and that means something to him.
“Fresno State is my top school right now, but I’m not going to shut out other schools,” Kinninger said. “Fresno State is definitely high up there and it’s going to be tough for other schools to come in late and catch up. I don’t plan on enrolling early. I never gave it much thought. I’d like to finish my high school career and wrap things up here and move on.”
The fight for recruits is always going to be tough. The ones you want the most are often the hardest to keep, but this staff continues to find recruit after recruit to buy into their family. Time and development will tell the story of who they become on the field, but their hard work, dedication, and commitment to making those around them better is why they got the chance to become a Bulldog in the first place.
Stay tuned to BarkBoard.com for more updates on the 2014 Fresno State season.
Josh Webb is a Staff Writer for BarkBoard. You can follow him on Twitter at @FightOnTwist.