In process of adjustment, Kinsey is making certain that future will be bright

Eddie Herz

Junior running back Marvin Kinsey Jr. found the endzone twice last week against Wyoming for the first time since he scored multiple touchdowns against University of Nevada at Las Vegas in October 2016.

But Kinsey’s level of play against the Cowboys exhibits the running back’s potential that many believed he had during his 2016 freshman season.

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Kinsey’s explosiveness and speed as a freshman seemed to indicate that the running back would have a consistent, successful career with the Rams.

But as the running back prepared for CSU’s 2016 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl matchup with the Vandals, Kinsey endured a devastating setback when he tore his ACL during practice.

The injury was tough to respond to physically and mentally. Even when Kinsey was cleared to play in 2017, he still lacked the ideal mindset.

“It takes a couple of months after you get cleared,” Kinsey said. “You have to get comfortable. I was a little hesitant I think. I think it got to me a little bit.”

Kinsey’s mental issues translated into on-field struggles last season. Though he was healthy, the running back failed to rush for more than 42 yards in all six games.

Now, Kinsey feels as if he is finally back to where he needs to be mentally. The running back also acknowledged how going through such a struggle benefited him.

“The injury humbled me a lot,” Kinsey said. “I was a freshman. I was doing my thing as the third string running back. That got to my head a little bit, but the knee injury kind of brought me back down … It allowed me to see that I can be better. I’m not the best there is.”

It wasn’t easy for Kinsey to transform insecurities into confidence. Kinsey explained how running back Coach Bryan Applewhite and Head Coach Mike Bobo constantly emphasized not to doubt himself.

Even though Kinsey has demonstrated a noticeable amount of progress this season, he finds himself in a frustrating role. Kinsey is still a backup, as he’s always been. The running back is averaging less than 11 touches per game this season.

It’s evident that Kinsey isn’t given as long of a leash compared to lead tailback Izzy Matthews or former running back Dalyn Dawkins.

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Kinsey’s love of the game is well-known. He never wants to leave the field, yet he’s infrequently on the field.

The junior said he has found a way to cope with the situation and make it work in his favor.

“I put in my mind that you are going to have to find a reason to take me out,” Kinsey said. “So, last week I gave (Bobo) a reason to not take me out. It’s really frustrating just watching when I know I can be out there doing my thing, but I’m a team player. I’d rather get the win than all the accolades.”

Kinsey said he is inspired by his near-future’s potential.

After all, Kinsey has a realistic opportunity of upgrading to a significantly expanded role once the 2019 season arrives. Izzy Matthews will have graduated, leaving Kinsey and sophomore Marcus McElroy as the most experienced tailbacks on CSU’s roster.

“Next year I feel it’s my show,” Kinsey said. “Izzy’s a senior, I see how the system works. He needs to get his touches … Izzy should get as many touches as the coaches feel he should. But next year I think it’ll be me like it was him.”

Kinsey has re-established himself as a facilitator with the capability of busting out a big play at any moment. The mental roadblock provided from an injury hangover is in the past.

Still, another mental aspect of Kinsey remains in question: His level of maturity.

The tailback was suspended for the first half of the New Mexico Bowl last season for violating team rules until it was lifted in September 2018.

Though being relied on appropriately is an ongoing process for the running back, receiving the suspension is also something the junior feels as if he has been enlightened from.

“I really learned to not make dumb mistakes and just be mature,” Kinsey said. “I just had to learn from past experiences and that I am not a little kid anymore. You can’t get in trouble. Coach Applewhite tells me that people look up to you. You may not see it, but what you do, people follow. I just have to lead the right way and not the wrong way.”

Bobo has never lost faith in his once troublesome running back.

Bobo said he knows what Kinsey is capable of and wants the running back’s collegiate career to exhaust all of the possible positive outcomes.

“I think when Marvin is dependable in every area of his life he has a chance to be a really good player, and he’s working on that,” Bobo said. “He’s matured since he’s been here. But sometimes there are little lapses of maturity. He’s a guy that needs to touch the ball for us because he has an explosive playmaking ability. But at the same time he has to be more dependable.”

Life can be hard to manage, especially when the bright lights of college football are beaming on a young adult.

Given that Kinsey has been in a backup role for his entire collegiate career, he hasn’t been forced to grow up and face the music as much as some of his teammates have.

Nonetheless, the junior is now making an effort to better himself. He’s conscious of his actions, which may have not been the case before he got suspended.

Kinsey makes strides to prove his character each and everyday on and off the field. Bobo sees it, and the running back’s teammates do as well.

“We see him getting better everyday on the things that maybe don’t have to do with football, but life in general,” Matthews said. “The kid is a spark plug. If he can start dialing down some of those things he’s going to be a really special player for this program.”

It is impossible to know what the future holds for Kinsey, but after a rollercoaster of a career, Kinsey is doing everything in his power to assure that the future is bright.

Eddie Herz can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz.