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2022 SOTU Awards: Overall and Defensive MVP, Safety Kamren Kinchens

It’s been a Long Time since Miami was #SafetyU, but one of the Lone Bright Spots for the 2022 Canes Hopes to be the First Two-Time AP All-American out of Miami since another Safety - Ed Reed (2000-01).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Miami at Georgia Tech Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There weren’t many bright spots on Miami’s roster in 2022 but as far as an individual MVP, Safety Kamren Kinchens is a no-brainer as the Overall and Defensive MVP for the Canes this past season. The true sophomore not only led the team in tackles (59) and interceptions (6) - and one 99-yard pick six - but was named First Team AP All-American. He also was deemed First Team All-American by a number of other publications, narrowly missed earning Consensus All-American Honors, and also earned First Team All-ACC.

The Miami Northwestern graduate was born in South Florida at a time when the Hurricanes had already been well-established as #SafetyU. However, during Kinchens lifetime, the allure of attracting and retaining top tier safety talent at the U dissipated immensely.

Of note, the likes of Bennie Blades, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, and Brandon Meriweather shined for the Canes probably before Kinchens could even appreciate the different positional players on a football field. Since the aforementioned lineage of safeties suited up for the Canes, the crop of quality players at safety for Miami has gradually paled in comparison.

It is just one player in one season but Kinchens put up an historic season this past year. Even more, he and James Williams have a lot of promising traits and hope to bring the #SafetyU tagline back to the U. The duo of Kinchens/Williams entered the Canes’ program at the same time and there is certainly a possibility that they are the first two Canes selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. Even though he was unable to witness the pinnacle of safety play for the Canes’ firsthand, Kinchens was mentored throughout high school by another former Miami free safety and first round pick, Kenny Phillips, who likely imparted some wisdom from the glory days.

Kinchens’ career so far at Miami has been incredibly impressive but he is just the first AP All-American since Jose Borregales (2020). Prior to that, the last AP All-American for Miami was Antrel Rolle in 2004, and the Canes also had two AP All-Americans in 2003. As Kinchens is a returning for 2023, he has the chance to be the first two-time AP All-American out of the U since another safety, Ed Reed, in 2000-01.

As for his six interceptions in 2022, Kinchens mark only trails Blades and Taylor - who each recorded 10 - on Miami’s single-season interception list in the modern era of Miami Hurricanes Football. Elite company for sure for Kinchens. And to make the reputable season for the playmaker even more impressive, Kinchens had the highest PFF Grade among all Power Five safeties at 90.0.

It did not matter where Kinchens lined up to be a gamechanger, but he predominantly played Free Safety and took the occasional snaps at slot corner or in the box. Kinchens not only relies on his unmatched savviness and nose for the ball on the field, but he has put in the required work to become an All-American through workouts and the extra drills off the field.

To that end, Kinchens is setting himself up to shoot up draft boards for when he becomes eligible in the 2024 NFL Draft if he continues the steady play. As part of the 2021 recruiting class, Kinchens was the 320th ranked recruit in the nation, which had him hovering around three-star to four-star value. During his two-year stint at Miami, Kinchens has climbed the depth chart against some players that were ranked higher than him according to recruiting sites. For example, Kinchens has played alongside, and put up more impressive seasons than some borderline five-star composite ranked recruits at defensive back including James Williams (15th ranked), Tyrique Stevenson (37th ranked), Avantae Williams (45th ranked), and Bubba Bolden (59th ranked).

The expectations of being a safety at Miami is an honor and even though Kinchens had not witnessed it firsthand, he is living up to it now. The hometown Hurricane hopes to keep his name among the greats.