NFL Draft: Interview with Alcorn State DB KJ Kinsler Jr.

Call him KJ “The Football Guru” Kinsler Jr., defensive back from Alcorn State University. 

The guru is gearing up for the NFL Draft, just a few days away, and has the resume to show for whatever team will pick him up. In 11 games, Keyon “KJ” Kinsler had 61 tackles (31 solo), one interception, three tackles for 10 yards loss, one block, one forced fumble and one recovery. 

Kinsler’s football career sparked with inspiration from the Florida Gators. 

“I’m in the backyard of the University of Florida, I started playing football around six years old which is when the Gators went to the national championship in 2006,” Kinsler said, discussing how this ultimately led him to Alcorn in 2018. “Alcorn was a great experience, HBCU was a great experience,”

Though his experience was unique because of the pandemic, Kinsler made the best of the situation and took that time for himself.

“COVID was kind of like our redshirt year. We didn’t play football, we opted out, it was just a time where I could just work on myself. I feel like looking from 2020 to 2021 and just seeing the jump in my play, I can attest that COVID.” Kinsler said.

Now that he officially declared for the draft, Kinsler’s family is excited for his football future. He, on the other hand, is taking a calm approach to what’s been going on in his preparations.

“I’m kind of laid back but they’re all like, they’re all in about it. Every chance they get to talk about it, to hype me up, it’s there. The floor is there for them and they do it. Me, I’m just chilling – for the most part,” Kinsler said.

On his preparation, Kinsler’s focus revolves around self-reflection and support system that keeps him balanced.

“[I’m] taking things a day at a time, just self-reflecting on things that I feel like I have to work on,” Kinsler said. “Pretty much mentally, I have a good village, I would say, family supports me, just kind of keeps me sane. I work out with my friends it keeps me humble and keeps me going,”

Having many years of experience under his belt, Kinsler considers himself a student of the game. With confidence playing a huge part in his mentality, he thinks this sets him apart as a valuable draft pick.

“I feel mostly everybody’s a good athlete at this level, I feel like what separates me most is my intellect,” Kinsler said.

With younger guys having their success in the NFL early on, Kinsler is ready for his opportunity to do the same.

“For me, it just gives hope that I can come in if I’m worthy of this shot [and] if I’m worthy of the opportunity that the opportunity will come. It’s just hopeful, it gives me hope.” He said.

While giving respect to his fellow brothers, Kinsler never forgets to give his flowers to the veterans in the game whom he looks to for their explosiveness and physicality.

“For me, it’s guys like the Tyrann Mathieus, the Jamaal Adams [and] the Budda Bakers of the world. I’m a big fan of Chauncey as well,”

Just like Mathieu, Adams and Baker, Kinsler had a great support system early on that gave him the success to land in the position of NFL Draft prospect. Thanks to the advice from his high school coach, Kinsler’s success lies in his ability to trust the process and focus on the end goal.

“It’s a blessing that looking back [at] six years old who would have ever thought I’d be here? And now, in this shoes, it’s just a testament of how much work I put in and how many hours I put in.” Kinsler said.

“Trust the process and take every day and get 1% better,” Kinsler said. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself because at the end of the day, football is football,”

Check out KJ Kinsler’s full interview on the First & Jenn podcast.

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