The Career Numbers
- 102 total tackles (93 in 2016)
- 7.5 tackles for loss (all in 2016)
- 1.5 sacks (all in 2016)
When sophomore linebacker Bryce Jenkinson lost the 2016 season to injury following his breakout freshman year it served up a real problem for a team that already had enough issues to deal with. Luckily, Cincinnati had more depth at the position than the outside world may have realized and from that depth came Antonio Kinard.
A junior college transfer, Kinard was used rather sparingly in his first season at UC, recording nine tackles in four games. Despite that slow first year, he would have made an impact as a senior even though he was slotted behind Jenkinson on the depth chart to start the season. However, when Jenkinson went down, Kinard stepped up.
Fellow linebacker Eric Wilson may have led the American Athletic Conference in tackles, but Kinard didn’t do too badly when it came to taking down ball-carriers either. In fact, his 93 stops tied for sixth in the league. That marked the first time since 2014 that two UC linebackers have finished the season in the top 10 in the conference in tackles.
Not all of Kinard’s tackles were the vanilla kind. We aren’t talking trip-up-a-running-back-after-a-five-yard-pick-ups exclusively. Kinard also rampaged his way to 7.5 tackles for loss including 1.5 sacks. While not gaudy numbers, he was one of the critical forces in creating pressure and negative plays for the Bearcats. He tied for second on the team in TFL and fourth in quarterback takedowns.
The Best of the Best
Sept. 15 vs. Houston
A masterpiece. That is simply what Kinard put together against Houston (even if it did come in a 40-16 loss). He recorded a season-high 18 tackles (the most by any Bearcat in a single game all season and that includes Wilson. He also had a sack and dropped back into coverage effectively, tallying up two passes defended.
Oct. 22 vs. East Carolina
In his second double-digit tackle effort of the year, Kinard racked up 11 stops in leading the Bearcats to victory.
Nov. 25 at Tulsa
Sure, the outcome wasn’t what he may have wanted in his final game as a Bearcat, but Kinard fought to the bitter end, finishing with 13 tackles. He was one of three players (Wilson and Zach Edwards being the others) to have multiple games with 10 or more tackles.
A Final Goodbye
Kinard’s time at UC was short, especially considering how limited his playtime was as a junior. It is also unfortunate that his breakthrough season came during a down year for the program, robbing him of a chance to play in the postseason as a senior. Even so, when his star shone, it shone bright, even if it went streaking across the sky too quickly.