Tracking proCanes - Kevin Brinkworth - Part II

Part II: Kevin’s thoughts on the current state of the program, favorite things, word associations and more! Click here to read Part I

pC: Alright, let’s now talk about your playing days. At what age did you start playing football, and did you play any other sports?
KB: I started playing football when I was 7 yrs old and played every year throughout high school. I also wrestled.

pC: What was your favorite team growing up?
KB: I’ve always been more of a college than pro-football fan, even though, just like all kids my generation, I loved the Dallas Cowboys.

pC: Who was your favorite player growing up and why?
KB: My favorite player growing up was Danny White, of the Dallas Cowboys. He was the QB and the punter. He was the man! 

pC: What position did you play growing up?
KB: I always played linebacker and then moved to fullback in high school.

pC: Were you a Hurricane Fan growing up?
KB: Of course I was a Hurricane fan! Without a doubt, they were my favorite college football team, actually, my favorite team overall. I always liked Notre Dame until Miami beat the snot out of them Nov. 30, 1985 Miami 58 - Notre Dame 7. I went to the game with my father and do you wanna laugh?  I wore Notre Dame boxer shorts to the game with UM shorts over the top. Needless to say, I never took off my pants. 

I was always a huge fan of George Mira Jr. First off, because he was the toughest white undersized middle linebacker in college football at the time, and he created a legacy by following in his fathers footsteps and becoming an All-American at the University of Miami.

pC: Who recruited you out of High School?  KB: There were many – based upon my wrestling and football ability combined, I had my choice of school nationwide, mostly in the northeast. 

pC: What coach at Miami recruited you out of high school?
KB: Art Kehoe found me. He was really impressed with my wrestling skills. I won a few state titles, a national, and a world title before going to Miami. 

pC: A world title?
KB: Yeah, 16 an under world title. I beat a guy from Italy that looked about 22. He had a beard.

pC: So, you're a Cane but you almost went to....
KB: I’m a Cane, but I almost went to Iowa to win national titles in wrestling versus football.

pC: What was the toughest thing about playing at the U?
KB: The toughest thing about playing the University of Miami was adjusting to the speed of the game.  I played in the Northeast where strength was emphasized more than speed.

pC: What's your favorite memory of your time at Miami?
KB: My favorite memory at Miami is the camaraderie of being around all these great guys that were my friends and we were just all focused on the same goal. It was just like being in the ultimate fraternity. I miss the friendships, the trust. I miss always having someone at my side at all times

pC: What games stand out from your days at the U?
KB: FSU, 91’, wide right. I red-shirted that year but drove up to Tallahassee on Friday night and suited up for the game. I’ll never forget the Doak Campbell tomahawk chant and the utter silence at the end of the game. My first start against UCLA was right up there too, but it ended in injury, so that silenced my career.

pC: Which former teammate was the toughest to go up against in practice?
KB: Ray Lewis . He never took a play off.  He thrived on catching you “slippin” as we would say at the U.

pC: Who do you think was the best player at Miami while you were there?
KB: K.C. Jones (pictured to the right). He took football to a whole new level, whether it was his heated battles with Warren Sapp, or ripping Ray Lewis’ helmet off.  K.C. Jones was by far the toughest and most skilled football player I’ve ever met in life.

pC: Who was your best friend while playing?
KB: (laughs) K.C. Jones. I knew it was better to be his friend, than his enemy, but I really hung out with everyone.  I was one of the few players that didn’t see color.  I hung out with Warren Sapp one night, K.C. Jones another night, and Ray Lewis the next.  Everyone was my friend at UM. I even hung out with non-descript players and even walk-ons.  I’m still friends with guys like Jason Budroni and Larry Luttrell.  Geez, I couldn’t run my business without Larry Luttrell’s legal advice.

pC: What other former teammates do you keep in touch with?
KB: As I just said, I couldn’t run my business without Larry, KC Jones is my financial advisor.  I was just in Ryan Clement’s wedding, and yesterday I talked to Warren Sapp.  I went to Jamaica with Rohan Marley last year, and I haven’t missed a former player’s reunion since we started it back in 02’.  If you were to ask any of the former players who is a conduit to the former players database, I’d rank right up there in the top 3.  I love the U and I consider all of my former teammates my brothers and I always stay in contact with family. 

pC: Any coaches you still talk to?
KB: Of course.  I religiously stay in contact with Don Soldinger, Mario Cristobol, Art Kehoe, and Coach Shannon.  A lot of people don’t know, but my first year at UM was also Randy’s.  We’ve known each other for almost 20 years.

pC: You won a National Championships, talk about that experience.
KB: That was amazing.  It happened in my first year at UM – imagine going from an undefeated high school team to an undefeated college team and winning a national title.  I’m probably one of the luckiest college football players around.  And don’t forget, we went 11-0 and played for the National title in the Sugar Bowl in 92’ as well.  During that 3 year period of my life, I only experienced losing once!

pC: Talk about Dennis Erickson as a Coach. We have heard many stories about his lack of discipline, among other things.
KB: Coach Erikson was Coach Erikson. You’ve heard the stories, and some are just that, stories.  Coach Erikson prided himself on being a player’s coach. He let players play and be themselves.  You’re right, he wasn’t much of a disciplinarian, but you try keeping Warren Sapp, Rohan Marley, and James Stewart in 7 nights a week (chuckles). As far as I’m concerned, Dennis Erikson gave me my opportunity to play at the UM and I will forever be grateful for that.  At the end of the day, he couldn’t  be that bad, he did win 2 National Championships.

pC: Talk about the whole U is Family and the tight bonds players make and keep.
KB: As I said before, the U is a family, and we all stay in touch.  Just this past year, 250 players showed up at our player’s reunion.  Like I said, there isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t talk to one of our former players regarding business or life in general.

pC: Do you go back often? When was the last time you went back? You go to any games?  KB: Come on Dude, you know I’m at the U twice a week.  I’ve only been to one game at Dolphin Stadium, but that’s because I celebrated the birth of my son, Kevin Jr., in September of last year and we’re stationed back home in Buffalo, NY.  Prior to that, I didn’t miss a home game for the previous 3 seasons.  If you wanted to find me on any given college football Saturday, I was on the sidelines at the Orange Bowl with my video camera.

pC: What did your teammates call you? Did you have a nickname?
KB: My nickname was Brink, but somehow, that turned into Stink, so I guess in a way, I’ll always be known as Stinky.  Not because of my hygiene, though, but because of my prankster personality.

pC: In a road game, whose opposing fans rivaled the West End Zone?
KB: FSU was always loud and Penn State wasn’t quiet either. Nothing compared to the Carrier Dome (Syracuse University) on sold out road games.  

pC: You were part of that last second win at Syracuse where they driving down the field and your buddy Rohan stopped them just short. What do you remember from that game? 
KB: I remember it like yesterday. I had four tackles on kickoffs. I ran the “the missle” Rocket Ismail’s brother down from behind.

pC: What one person was the most influential in the development of your game?
KB: Don Soldinger, hands down.  He helped me realize my true potential by forcing me to discipline myself.  He taught me there are no short-cuts in life and the only way to be a true success is to do every little thing right.  That meant never missing work-outs, never missing class, putting in extra film time, and basically, holding yourself accountable to your teammates, your family.  That was paramount in Don Soldinger’s eyes.

pC: What do you think about the last couple of years and the current state of Hurricane football?
KB: It’s been a bummer, but people would have said the same thing about USC in the 80’s.  Don’t worry, we will be back on top before you know it.  And all of sudden everyone will love the Canes’ all across the country, all over again.   

pC: What do the 'Canes have to do to become an elite team again?
KB: Like I said before, the little things.  It’s the extra work-outs and literally holding yourself accountable to your teammates, your family, and the former players who have created what is the University of Miami’s legacy. 

pC: Why do you think the program fell off the way it did?
KB: It happens.  College football is cyclical.  One year all of the good players go to USC, the next year they go to Texas. As you have seen recently, all of the good players are coming back to the U.  It’s about recruiting and getting the right players, with the right mindset at the U.  I think Randy Shannon has the right mindset and the right mentality.

pC: What is a misconception people have about the University of Miami?
KB: That we’re a bunch of thugs.  As you can see, some of us produce films, some of us try cases, and some of us dance the Samba in front of 30 million viewers once a week on Dancing with the Stars. We’re a very unique group of individuals, all of us having our own talents, but in the end, we’re all family.  I can’t stress that enough.  Once the U brings this family atmosphere back, not only will we start winning again, the city of Miami as well as the whole country will want to be back in our home.

pC: What do you think about the move to Dolphins stadium?
KB: No comment.  Home will always be where your heart is. We will always live in the Orange Bowl.

pC: Tell us the craziest story from your UM football days that you can remember either with another player or coach on or off the field
KB: My attorney, and former UM player Lawrence Lutrell, has advised me to plead my 5th amendment right to silence on this question.  But I will tell you this, within those 5 years I created friendships that will last a lifetime. If someone told me that I could go back to 1991 and repeat those years I would walk through that time machine in a NY minute. I would give up all the winning we did just to go back and be a part of the team.  

pC: Come on, one story.
KB: Ok there was this one time that K.C. and I took out this top recruit from Texas in 94’. When we met him, he told us he was going to Texas, but he thought he’d come check out Miami to see what it was like down in the sunshine.  K.C. and I didn’t really appreciate that, so we really showed him a good time.  Long story short, after feeding him lobster tails and strip steaks at the Rusty Pelican, we took him to the Grove for a night at the Tavern.  Somewhere around closing time, 3 lobster tails and 2 strip steaks ended up on the floor along with 6 pitchers of warm beer.  The remaining 2 lobster tails, steak, and 2 pitchers of beer, ended up on the Greentree practice field because we made him run 100-yard sprints for embarrassing us in our local establishment.  We dropped him off at the pool at the University Holiday Inn.  He deposited one more lobster tail poolside and I think he regrets ever coming to Miami and wasting our time. We were the U and U don’t disrespect us.  
  pC: Word Associations, Give me the first thing that pops in your head when you read the following:    Randy Shannon: Head coach  Larry Coker: My man  Orange Bowl: Home  Dolphins Stadium: Where?  Sebastian the Ibis: Superman  Dennis Erickson: Wow  Coral Gables: 33146  The Fiesta Bowl: Ouch (’93)  Ohio State: Thieves    pC: Favorite NFL Team?

pC: Favorite NBA Team?
KB: Who? 

pC: Favorite Baseball Team?

pC: Favorite Food?
KB: Pizza 

pC: What Band/Group I would find most of on your iPod?
KB: Bob Marley. I have every album. 

pC: One movie you could watch over and over?
KB: Rebel Music – The Bob Marley Story 

pC: One TV show you cannot miss?
KB: Miami CSI 

pC: What do you do in your spare time?
KB: Work 

pC: Two websites you have to check daily?
KB: proCanes and Google 

We at would like to thank Kevin Brinkworth for being so gracious with his time to do this very insightful interview for our new feature "Tracking proCanes."Click here to check out our past interviews with Leon Searcy, Steve Walsh, Frank Costa and more!