March 17, 2009

Linebacker possesses outstanding growth potential

Antonio Kinard is already a force on the football field, but he should become an even bigger wrecking ball once he adds more weight to a continuing-growing body. The Youngstown, Ohio, linebacker committed to Michigan Friday …

"He's barely 200 pounds right now because he can't eat enough to keep up with the rapid rate at which he's growing," Liberty High coach Jeff Whittaker said. "He's an avid lifter in the weight room and is very strong but obviously has a lot of room to add weight. Once his height plateaus, he will get bigger and then we'll see at what size he feels comfortable at."

In 2008, Kinard was a standout defender at inside linebacker, recording 86 tackles, including six sacks. He could eventually grow into a defensive end, though U-M likes him at linebacker also.

"He's physical, which you have to have at that position," Whittaker said. "He's long and rangy, very athletic and possesses tremendous growth potential. He could reach 6-6 and certainly his size, and the way he matures, will determine where he plays in college. I think his upside is something that is really attractive to Michigan right now.

"He's one of those kids with a great motor and great instincts. His film speaks for itself. He's physical and hits you with an intent to punish you for choosing to play offense instead of defense.

"Antonio just loves to compete. It doesn't matter if it's checkers or volleyball or running in gym class - he wants to win."

The 6-4, 210-pounder (officially in the Rivals' database) visited Michigan March 13 as part of Junior Day festivities and committed shortly after landing in Ann Arbor. He informed head coach Rich Rodriguez of his decision as the juniors toured The Big House.

In choosing the Maize and Blue, Kinard will join 2008 teammates Fitzgerald Toussaint and Isaiah Bell as Wolverines. The two will enroll at Michigan in the fall. Their presence, though, was only a slight factor in his choice.

"He seemed to have a diehard interest in Michigan right from the get-go," Whittaker said. "He made this decision on his own and wasn't pressured by his teammates. It just felt right to him and there is no arguing with that.

"I told him when he took his visit up there over the weekend to go in with an open mind and he did, but when he returned he was absolutely in love [with U-M]."

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