PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Kary Vincent Jr. doesn’t just walk the line between cocky and confident. He runs it. He runs it with 4.38 speed and he runs it with his eyes on the end zone.
Could he beat Donte Jackson, the fastest man in college football, in a footrace? He thinks so. What about John Ross? Is he faster than the man who just on Saturday set the record for running the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL combine history? Let’s just say Vincent doesn’t think that record will stand for very long.
And what about Derrius Guice? What’s the 4-star cornerback out of Memorial High School in Port Arthur, Texas going to do the first time he sees the LSU star and the SEC’s leading rusher running straight at him in practice?
Well, for one thing, he won’t flinch.
“He mentioned that on my official visit. He always said I’m going to need some help bringing him down in practice,” Vincent said of Guice’s smack talk. “But I’m not going to back down from anything. I’m going to give him what I got and he’s going to come with it. He better be thinking about what he wants to do, because I’m going to be bringing something.”
That’s Kary Vincent Jr. for you. Part of the next generation of LSU’s “DBU” tradition, Vincent is a humble man trapped in the body of an athlete who’s rarely — if ever — been physically matched. The last time someone beat Vincent in a foot race, the district meet to qualify for the 2016 Texas 200-meter dash state championship, Vincent turned around and beat that guy and everyone in the state next time out, earning himself a Texas title in his secondary sport.
It goes without saying, but Vincent knows exactly how fast he is. He’s known he was fast since he was the kid on the schoolyard who never lost a every race. But back then he didn’t think it mattered. Back then, speed was just something to brag about in, literally, the most elementary sense possible.
But then he got older. And he started playing high school football, which, as I’m sure you’ve heard, is kind of a big deal in Texas. As a younger player — he started playing football as a 7-year old — Vincent was a running back. He loved having the ball in his hands. But his father, a former college football player, steered him into the defensive backfield, seeing the prodigious talent his son possessed.
He was an instant fit. The first player who ever threw Vincent an interception? That was Jalen Hurts. Yes, that Jalen Hurts. Alabama quarterback and SEC Freshman of the Year Jalen Hurts.
And it didn’t stop there. Vincent returned three interceptions for touchdowns as a senior in 2016, a number he was quick to point out was three more than his close friend and future LSU teammate JaCoby Stevens.
Vincent said he received more scholarship offers than anyone else in his school’s history. And counted among his school’s alums is former University of Texas and NFL All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles.
So yes. Schools think highly of Vincent. But so does Vincent. And so do LSU coaches Ed Orgeron and Dave Aranda.
The next Tre’ White?
It’s an observation any LSU fan with eyes and ears could make: Ed Orgeron is loud and Dave Aranda is quiet.
Orgeron makes the calls. He asks about school and he checks in on Vincent’s 11-year old brother Kyler. He’s the one who inspires confidence in Kary Sr. and Angela, Vincent’s father and stepmother, that things are going to be all right when their son leaves his home state for college.
But Aranda is the genius. Vincent said watching film with Aranda is unlike anything he could imagine. LSU’s defensive coordinator sees coverage schemes and blitz packages the way John Nash saw numbers. So without ever seeing Vincent in an LSU uniform, Aranda knows where the man they call “K Cinco” is going to play.
Vincent said Aranda envisions him as a nickel corner, the same position that departing seniors Tre’Davious White and Dwayne Thomas occupied in 2016. That way, Vincent can take away the speed of opposing slot receivers and put pressure on the quarterback with the occasional blitz.
With three vacancies in the LSU secondary left behind by White, Thomas and safety Jamal Adams, Vincent said he’s ready to compete for playing time as soon as he arrives in Baton Rouge this summer. Make no mistake: Vincent wants what’s best for the team. But what’s best for the team might also include Vincent.
And three or four years down the line, after Vincent’s earned his degree in Mass Communications (he wants to be the next Ryan Clark), Vincent hopes what’s best for him will be the NFL, where he’ll get to put his money where his mouth is and try to take John Ross’ record away from him.
“That’s always been my dream, since Pop Warner, seventh grade,” Vincent said. “You just don’t see it happening. Especially for me, being a name nobody really knew to following my junior year having 30-plus offers in two months. You don’t expect for that to happen. It’s rare to see. It’s great to know that my hard work paid off. It just shows me and motivates me to keep going. The sky’s the limit.”