Dane Kinamon’s multisport talent could have presented him with options of potential pursuits at the next level.
But that’s never how he saw it, with Air Force football always being his top target.
“My dad played here, so I always envisioned myself playing here,” said Kinamon, whose father, Chuck, was a 1986 Air Force graduate and outside linebacker for the 1984 and ’85 Falcons teams. “That was always my ultimate goal was just trying to follow his footsteps.”
Baseball might have been another option, as Kinamon was a standout infielder at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, Ga. His brother, Duke, was an infielder at Stanford who then played in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
Or even within football, Kinamon was an all-region quarterback in high school and could have sought an opportunity to play that position instead of the multiple spots – receiver, running back, safety – that the Falcons have tried with him.
But Kinamon never entertained another option, committing late in his junior year of high school. And it has gone according to play even without considering his success on the field.
“The most important thing I saw in him is his lifelong friends were Air Force football players,” Kinamon said of his father. “Now I have some great relationships on the team. Playing football is fun and doing it here is a great time. It’s been great.”
The football side of things has gone well, too.
Kinamon appeared in 11 games in 2019, most among the freshman class that season.
He was among those who left on turnback in 2020.
This past year, as a sophomore, he ran 37 times for 165 yards and caught 10 passes for 141 yards.
It wasn’t the 306 total yards he gained that jumped out. With Brad Roberts gaining 1,356 yards at fullback and Haaziq Daniels running for 734 yards at quarterback, Air Force didn’t need an engine to fire the offense. He was more like the snow tires that came in handy to keep drives going in tough spots.
Of his 10 catches, nine went for touchdowns or first downs, including a 14-yard catch on 3rd and 13 vs. San Diego State and a 15-yard grab vs. Louisville on third-and-14 in the First Responder Bowl. The only catch that didn’t move the sticks or put up points – a one-yard catch on 3rd and 6 at Colorado State – was immediately followed by a 16-yard run from Kinamon on a fake punt on the next play. He then capped the drive with a touchdown reception.
Kinamon also scored a touchdown in overtime at Nevada, launching himself into a Wolf Pack defender at the goal-line with such thrust on the third-down play to finish the 2-yard run that he suffered a concussion. He also recovered Louisville’s on-side kick to help preserve the bowl victory. He was trusted to field punts for the team and he was the intended target on the final incomplete pass in an overtime loss to Army
“You can tell he grew up in a home where they did plenty of throwing and catching,” said Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who was a teammate of Kinamon’s father at the academy.
Kinamon’s family also includes an older brother, Derek who was a boxer at Air Force, and is now a pilot on active duty. His sister, Tori, was an Ivy League gymnast at Brown.
The question surrounding Kinamon’s future with the Falcons is only which role he’ll eventually settle into, if any.
It seems his days on defense are over, though he credits time he spent there in the spring of his freshman year with helping him to learn the nuances of coverages in ways he can utilize in route running. He could serve as tailback, or be more of a pass-catcher at either the slot or split receiver positions.
“We’re kind of one of those squads where we try not to say a guy only plays one spot,” Calhoun said. “We don’t like to slot and say you’re only pigeon-holed in that one spot. It’s been that way with Brandon Lewis, safeties and nickels, inside/outside backers. It might be that way with Dane, too.”
Kinamon, who grew up attending Air Force sports camps, is fine with any role on the field. His post-graduate hopes are a bit more specific, however, and have become his new target: following his father and brother as pilots in the Air Force.
“I’m on track so far,” Kinamon said. “Hopefully, fingers crossed, everything works out and that’s how it ends up.”
With eight of its nine leading rushers eligible to return, Air Force figures to have no shortage of experience in its backfield in the 2022 season. The list includes:
Haaziq Daniels, sr., quarterback
Ran for 734 yards, passed for 1,184 in 2021; 18 career starts
Micah Davis, jr., slot receiver
Averaged 22.1 yards on 10 catches, 7.7 on 47 carries as sophomore
Omar Fattah, sr., fullback
Carried 49 times for 220 yards this past season
Deandre Hughes, sr., tailback
Ran for 221 yards, two TDs in road win at Nevada
Dane Kinamon, jr., slot receiver/tailback
Scored seven TDs on 47 touches from scrimmages as a sophomore
Emmanuel Michel, sr., fullback
Ran for 427 yards, including a 64-yard run in 2021
Brad Roberts, sr. fullback
Ran for 1,356 last year, third most in program history