AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a dazzling display of offense last season in the FCS ranks, GJ Kinne is taking his high-octane brand of football to San Marcos in an attempt to bring some life to the Texas State Bobcats.
Kinne led Incarnate Word to a 12-2 record, the FCS semifinals and the Cardinals piled up 51.5 points per game to lead all FCS programs in 2022. Kinne was a finalist for the FCS Coach of the Year award and the Cards barely missed playing for the FCS national title. Now, he’s taking over an FBS program that hasn’t won four or more games in eight consecutive seasons and was picked to finish fifth out of seven teams in the Sun Belt Conference West Division.
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Kinne was hired in December 2022 after TXST parted ways with Jake Spavital, and this is just his second year as a head coach at any level. What makes Kinne think he can give the Bobcats the shot in the arm the program so desperately needs? Trying to “take back Texas,” is a start.
“Over 90 of our players will be from the State of Texas,” Kinne said. “Whether we sign kids out of high school, through the portal or the JUCO ranks, we’re going to make our money in Texas.”
Kinne said six of his 10 assistants have been high school football coaches in Texas, so he’s trying to set deep roots in the football factory that is the Lone Star State.
Kinne has already revamped the roster with 51 new players — 37 of them transfers — and he said quickly developing team chemistry will be critical for the Bobcats to get on track.
“We’ve done all the team bonding exercises, going to water parks, arcades … but to me it’s all about getting in the locker room with the guys and facing adversity,” Kinne said, “putting in the hard work in the summertime with the coaches not there, and I think the rest of the guys would tell you the same thing.”
Tory Spears, a fifth-year senior safety with 77 tackles and a 94-yard interception return touchdown last season, said he wants to see everybody put in the work.
“Getting everyone working and grinding together, seeing the blood, sweat and tears,” Spears said. “I love to see my teammates grind. That brings us closer.”
Nash Jones, a “very large human” as Kinne put it, loved Kinne and the coaching staff so much that he transferred from Incarnate Word to Texas State. Jones, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound offensive lineman who power-cleaned 385 pounds during a June workout, said the day-in and day-out work is what builds chemistry.
“When you’re feeling like crap and you’re still going through it, doing what you have to do, you start to build that bond,” he said. “When you see a teammate is hurting, you go help him up, and he;’s helping you up when you’re battling through running tempos and lifting heavy weight, you really start to grow close to one another.”
The Bobcats open the season Sept. 2 at Baylor with another road game against UTSA the following week. The home opener is set for Sept. 16 against Jackson State.