A.J. Kincade Feature Story
Sept. 23, 2005
With the Tigers leading 17-14 in overtime against Iowa State in the final week of the 2004 season, Mizzou cornerback AJ Kincade made the biggest play of his life. The Cyclones had the ball, third and goal inside the Tigers' five yard line. When the defense broke is huddle, Kincade was standing on the sideline as the Tiger coaches were waiting to see what formation Iowa State came in. Finally with the play starting in a few seconds the coaches yelled for Kincade and fellow cornerback Marcus King to get on the field.
"We got on the field really late," Kincade said. "When I finally got out on the field, I didn't know what to do, I looked at King and held my arms out, but he didn't know either so we decided to go into man coverage. When the play started the receiver started out kind of lackadaisically, but I stayed with him and then the ball was there and I jumped up and grabbed it."
Before he was making game-winning interceptions at Mizzou, Kincade played running back on junior teams near his home in St. Louis.
"I started playing football when I was seven years old and I didn't like it originally," Kincade said. "The first year I played I didn't enjoy, but I stuck with it and it's been an ongoing process since then."
However, when Kincade was growing up, he did play with several other scholar athletes on his own little league football team including former Tiger running back Damien Nash.
"We ran a wishbone offense that had me along with Damien Nash," Kincade said. "We had a dominant squad that year."
In high school, Kincade played on both sides of the ball starring at running back and cornerback where he earned All-State honors. His senior year, he rushed for 1,443 yards and 24 touchdowns on offense and had six career interceptions as a cornerback. He also earned All-State honors as a cornerback.
"I liked running back better," Kincade said. "I grew up playing running back, and then I didn't start until my senior year. However, the biggest schools were recruiting me to be a corner so I decided to stick with that."
Throughout his childhood, Kincade always played in multiple sports as he played baseball for one year and AAU basketball through junior high. In high school, Kincade joined the track team largely to keep in shape for football, but also had a very successful track career.
"My mom tried to get me to run track ever since I was a little boy because I was always pretty fast, but I was never really interested in it," Kincade said. "The first time I ran track was my freshman year, and I did it to stay in shape. The next summer I ran AAU track and I got second in nationals in the 4x100-meter relay." Kincade went on to place second in 4x100-meter relay in the state race, and third in the 100-meter dash.
"I was excited to excel like that because track was not my thing, it was something that I did to stay in shape," Kincade said.
Kincade was recruited heavily out of high school and described the process as stressful. Mizzou proved to be the best choice for him because of its size and Head Coach Gary Pinkel.
"I didn't consider Mizzou at first because they didn't have a coach," Kincade said. "Then I met coach Pinkel and I liked him and thought . I was coming from high school to here [Mizzou] and they were coming from Toledo to here, I was coming in with a fresh start and so were they - we could start fresh together."
In the first year of Pinkel's reign, the Tigers went 4-7 without Kincade's help as he was redshirted his freshman year. Kincade said that redshirting was a good decision because he needed to adjust to the faster pace of the college game, learn complicated coverage schemes and put on muscle.
"In high school you typically only had two or three coverage's; cover two, cover three and man-to-man," Kincade said. "Here there were all kinds of different names and rotations to learn. It was also good because it gave me the opportunity to lift weights and get bigger which was important in a physical conference like the Big 12."
After his redshirt year, Kincade was a part of many important Tiger victories in the 2003 season as he made his first start in Mizzou's double overtime victory against Texas A&M, their first ever at Kyle Field and the Tiger's victory over Nebraska where he played into the second quarter before being forced out with a torn meniscus.
"The game at Texas A&M was great because it was a packed house and I was nervous, but I had a pretty good performance and we won in double overtime," Kincade said. "The Nebraska game was great because it was a night game, and the Mizzou fans love playing Nebraska, the fans were supportive and loud and then they came down and tore down the goalposts. That entire season was great, going to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport and having lots of big wins."
Kincade's goals for this season are basically to make it be similar to the 2003 season, as he hopes for the team to be successful and to make a bowl game.
"I want to go to a major bowl," Kincade said. "I'd be happy going to any bowl but I just want to have the team be successful and to individually be known as one of the best cornerbacks in the conference."
After he graduates this spring, Kincade hopes to move onto the NFL. However, if that does not work out he will earn a degree in hotel and restaurant management and would like to work in a hotel.
"I've already heard from people in the hotel business saying that if football doesn't work out to call them," Kincade said. "So if the NFL doesn't work out, I would like to go back to St. Louis or another big city like Chicago and work in a major hotel chain there."
Whatever his future, Kincade can surely look back fondly on his standout career at Missouri. A major contributor in each and every game Kincade's impact on the program is sure to be felt for years to come.
-Written by Jeremy Anders, Missouri Media Relations Student Assistant