By LARRY VAUGHT
No one grows up wanting to be an offensive lineman.
Kentucky junior Darian Kinnard, an Athlon Sports preseason All-American, is confident any offensive lineman would agree with him because the more glamorous positions are what every youngster envisions he will be playing.
“But once you accept you are going to be a lineman, you take more pride in being a lineman because there are not a lot of people that can do it and be as big as I am and move the way I do,” said the 6-5, 345-pound tackle.
“I take a lot of pride in doing my job right. When you ball down between the lines, you go to work and make sure your team is winning and getting yards or you are pancaking a defensive lineman.”
Kinnard did all that and more when he helped UK go 8-5 with a rushing attack that was almost unstoppable at the end of the season because of the offensive line. He had 32 knockdown (pancake) blocks while starting all 13 games and committed just one penalty in 706 snaps.
Even though Kentucky didn’t throw the ball often the final eight games, he also gave up just one quarterback sack and says that came on a mistake against Florida in game three.
“I didn’t see the call from the sideline. I asked the guard what it was and didn’t understand what he meant and I gave up a free sack,” Kinnard said. “My one penalty was against Florida, too, when I grabbed a guy just enough to get the call.
“A good lineman is one who is not noticed. If I am doing everything right, then you just basically say that guy is good and doing his job. That is what being a lineman is all about.”
Kinnard is going noticed a lot lately but for the right reasons. He was ranked by SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic as the SEC’s second best returning offensive line. He was named to the all-SEC first team in Phil Steele’s College Football Preview along with a preseason All-American. He’s on the potential 2021 NFL draft list of many football analysts.
None of that is going to change his focus.
“There are plenty of small things that need work. I can get away with some of them now but at next level you will not get away with it,” Kinnard said. “I am not looking just to stay the same.
“If I want to go in the first round, I have to keep improving. If I want to go to the Hall of Fame, I want to improve. If I set a goal I want to get it done. When I was a little kid I had a dream of getting college paid for. Now I want a lot more.