MOORHEAD, MISS. — South Carolina defensive line coach Lance Thompson caught a flight to Mississippi on Thursday night for a glimpse of South Carolina commitment Javon Kinlaw.
Kinlaw, the former class of 2016 4-star recruit from Goose Creek (S.C.) High School, was glad to see Thompson working the sidelines during Jones County Junior College’s game at Mississippi Delta.
“That means a whole lot. I’m mad I didn’t get to play a whole lot for him, but at the same time, we’ve got to let the (other) guys get in, but it means a lot,” Kinlaw said. “They’ve got to play at Mississippi State Saturday, so I’m going to try get out there and show support.
“They showed support to me, so I’m just going to try to make it a mutual thing.”
Jones County, which entered the night as the No. 15 team in the NJCAA rankings, improved to 2-0 on the season with Thursday night’s 51-3 win.
Kinlaw, who enrolled at Jones County in January after getting his GED, is on track to graduate in May, which would allow him to enroll at South Carolina in time for the 2017 season.
“I never knew about it until coach (Will) Muschamp told me about it,” Kinlaw said. “I was thinking I was just going to have to come after high school and do this.”
Because he’s on an accelerated track, there is “no room for error.”
“It really makes me buckle down, stay on my grind, stay focused and just play football,” Kinlaw said.
That approach, particularly with school work, was new to him, but he’s catching on.
“I sit in the front of every classroom,” Kinlaw said. “I try to be a teacher’s pet as much as I can.”
He added, “It was hard at first. When I first came here, I didn’t know what to do … I never took anything serious until I got here. I’m pretty much good with the process. In high school, I was just clowning around, playing football, just doing stuff to stay eligible. Now I’m just trying to stay above average.”
Thompson keeps in regular contact with Kinlaw to make sure that is what’s going on.
“He just tells me to stay focused, don’t lose focus,” Kinlaw said. “He just tells me to get better every day, work hard in school … the main thing is to stay focused.”
So far, so good.
In week 1 against East Mississippi Community College, Kinlaw had 7 tackles and a sack. Against Mississippi Delta he was in on a couple of tackles and has a pass breakup.
After being held by the left guard, South Carolina commitment Javon Kinlaw (90) gets a piece of the sack. https://t.co/R9cS2mM1cI
— Hale McGranahan (@Hale_AJC) September 9, 2016
More importantly, in the classroom, Kinlaw maintains a 3.0 GPA.
“People had been telling me you’re not going to like JUCO, JUCO isn’t for you, stuff like that,” he said. “But, I mean, it’s a great experience. It’s great to be around these group of guys.”