A funny thing happened when G.J. Kinne stepped onto the field for the first time at Buckeye Stadium. The 3A player of the year, took a backseat to his new Gilmer teammates.
"Back in Canton, I was everything," said Kinne, talking about his large role in the Eagles offense and locker room. "Now in Gilmer, I'm just little man on the totem pole."
But even more surprising then Kinne's humility, was the reaction he got from his new teammates. Open arms.
"I'm going to treat him just like I treat everybody else," said Gilmer wide receiver Curtis Brown. "He's just like one of us now. He's a Gilmer Buckeye."
"Yeah, it was just, come on in, sit with us," added Jamell Kennedy. "We're all Buckeyes here. Once you come into the locker room, you're one of us."
Yes, even Gilmer's starting quarterback, Jamell Kennedy, is on board.
"I was pretty upset about it," Kennedy admitted, "but now, it's a blessing in disguise. It's going to totally open up our offense, and it's going to better our chance at winning state."
It's also going to better Kennedy's chance of getting a college scholarship. While undersized as a college quarterback, Kennedy is a Division I recruit at wide receiver. Pair him with Texas recruit Curtis Brown, and the Buckeye's offense is potentially lethal. The only problem is, head coach Jeff Traylor is in no hurry to crown a new signal caller. He's content with just letting Kinne absorb life as a Buckeye.
"He's not the coach's kid now," said Traylor. "We have other Division I players on this team. This program was winning long before he got here, so I think he really enjoys just being a part of it. He's getting to be a kid now. He's not having to be the face of the team. He's just getting to be a part of the team, and that's so much more fun and relaxing on a kid when they just get to be a part of a team."
Gary Joe Kinne, who coached his son in Canton the past three seasons, is now the linebackers coach at Baylor. G.J. says he still talks to his dad on a daily basis, but now, it's a lot less about X's and O's.
"It's kind of more focused towards college decisions and what I'm going to do for college," G.J. said, "and how's everyone looking down here, and do we have any prospects that can play for Baylor and all that kind of stuff."
Not haveing his dad as his coach has been an adjustment, but G.J. says, Coach Traylor has made the transition easy.
"Coach Traylor's been great," said G.J. "He's been a father figure to me since my dad's been in Waco. It's been great."
Kevin Berns reporting.