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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Cameron Kinley, CB, Navy

Cameron Kinley has exemplified hard work and leadership as a DB for the Naval Academy. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.

Talk about your experience as a student. What is your major/minor? Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
My major is Political Science, and I’ve also studied Japanese. I am President of the 2021 Naval Academy Class and also the Secretary for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Additionally, I am part of the Midshipmen Black Studies Club, the National Society for Black Engineers and the Midshipmen Diversity Team.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
Leadership. I’m a player that leads by example. I handle my responsibilities on and off the field. I also try to be a mentor to the younger players so that they have someone to look up to. I always try and keep my teammates motivated and focused.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
I’m fairly disciplined and coachable. I have played the boundary and field corner; yet, I feel like I can fit in anywhere in the secondary. I played some safety in high school as well as a little bit as a freshman. I’ve also been very active in special teams being part of kickoff and punt return units. Those are some of the most exciting plays in all of sports, and I love being part of them. As far as scheme, I can mix it up by playing press man and zone. I’m confident that I can learn whatever scheme the coaches put together. Although, I think zone fits me well being a rangy DB.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
Chase Claypool for sure. He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Steelers in 2020. He is a freakish athlete for his size being 6’4” 230+ lbs. He has blazing speed and great ball skills. He’s a powerful and fast individual.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
Malcolm Perry. He was drafted by the Dolphins in the 7th round to play WR; yet, he played QB for us. He’s a special talent and one of the most impressive teammates that I’ve had over the years. His change of direction is great, and he finds the gaps in the defense and takes advantage of it. With all his talent, he’s one of the most humble guys you’ll ever meet.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
Two examples come to mind. As a freshman in high school, I was a tiny 5’6” 115 lb player who really didn’t think he had a chance to play D1 football. Although, I kept grinding. I got into the weight room and let nature take its course. My senior year, I was a 6’1 185 lb player. I was able to show that I could persevere and not let the outside voices get into my head.

Another instance that comes to mind is my freshman year at Navy. I was cut from the travelling roster and was only playing on the scout team. I had to focus and do the work in order to transform my body. With the help of the coaches and strength training staff, I was able to improve agility and flexibility. I came back as a sophomore and got a few reps. Although, as a junior, I had finally won the starting job. This past season I was named team captain. I had gained the respect of my coaches and peers.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
I played some basketball in high school, but I stopped playing in my sophomore year in order to focus on football and get in the weight room. I also ran track in high school being State runner up in the 4×100. My events were that and the 100m, which my best is a 10.9.

If I didn’t play football, I would play golf. Golf is a mental game that involves strategy. Every shot matters, and you need to focus on each swing. It really translates to being a DB because you have to take each rep one at a time.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I think I’m most proud of how I’ve made my parents smile at what I’ve accomplished here at the Naval Academy. Becoming class president is a huge honor and my biggest achievements. I was the first president from the football team in over 60 years and only the 5th African American to achieve that honor. I was also named a finalist for the 2020 William V. Campbell Trophy (Academic Heisman).

Describe some of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
In 2019, we faced SMU on our Senior Night. SMU was ranked in the AP top 25. In the 4th quarter, they were on our 12 with a 4th and 4 with less than 3 minutes left on the clock. I was matched up with James Proche who’s currently with the Ravens. Buechele threw a back shoulder fade, and I was able to get the deflection causing a turnover on downs.

Another great moment happened this year against Tulane. They were up 24-0 in the second quarter and ready to score again. I was able to snag an Interception and stop their momentum. We ended up coming back in the 2nd half to beat them 27-24.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
Lebron James is my favorite athlete. To do what he has done in his career and always being at the top shows his greatness. I was a Cowboys fan when I was younger. Some of the players that I model my game after are guys like Stephon Gilmore and Richard Sherman. Sherman plays a style that fits me. He’s a tall DB that uses his IQ to diagnose offenses, reading the QB to make the play.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
J. Cole is one of my favorite music artists. Before a game, I like to listen to “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton.

What is your favorite comfort food?
I love getting chicken wings from Ching’s Wings in my hometown of Memphis, TN.

Do you have a favorite movie, TV show or actor?
My favorite actor is Denzel Washington. Remember the Titans is one of my favorite movies. Prison Break is a TV show that I like.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
I enjoy learning and playing the piano. I also like to write and read. I got a book called “Promise Land” by Barack Obama for Christmas that I’m reading now. The Harry Potter series is one of my favorite books.

Who or what motivates you the most?
My faith is important to me. I grew up in church. Without God, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My family also motivates me to keep going. I’m blessed to be part of a football family. Not only did my dad play, but my older brother has played in the NFL and my little brother currently plays at Middle Tennessee. We always talk after games and help motivate each other.

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