Little Elm RB Ke'aun Kinner onto the Texas recruiting radar

Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

A leading candidate has emerged to replace Arlington Martin running back Kyle Hicks, who decommitted from Texas recently.

After longtime 2013 pledge Kyle Hicks flipped to TCU several weeks ago to stay closer to home and play with friend Devonte Fields, the speculation revolved around whether or not the Longhorns would even choose to recruit a running back in the class with so much depth already on campus and two running backs committed in the 2014 class.

The two names that received the most circulation in the hours and days immediately following HIcks bailing on the 'Horns were DeSoto's Dontre Wilson, currently committed to Oregon, and Katy's Adam Taylor, pledged to Nebraska.

Wilson remains a longshot and Taylor hasn't heard from Texas, so that left things at a bit of a standstill until a new name surfaced on the radar -- Little Elm's Ke'aun Kinner, a 5-8.5, 180-pound sparkplug of a back.

Ke'aun Kinner Official Highlight video (via hyh361)

On film, Kinner is a tough runner for someone his size, which explains how someone his size had the durability to carry the ball 55 times in one game. And though he's not the thickest back and won't be a player known for pushing the pile at the college level, he does run hard and with ideal pad level, which can make him difficult to bring down because defenders have a difficult time getting a clean shot on him.

With listed 4.6 speed in the 40, Kinner is similar to Hicks in that he won't be a running back who excels at blowing up angles and running away from defenders at the next level, though he does look faster on film than his listed speed. Plus, one of his best attributes is his ability to hit top speed extremely quickly, something that clearly confounds defenders at the high school level and makes them appear as if they are running in mud at times.

Kinner also has some of the other tools that make for a highly productive back -- the balance to break through arm tackles, with some truly spectacular plays in that regards on his highlight film, and the ability to jump cut to take the edge or use subtle slide cuts to avoid defenders in open spaces.

In other words, he has all the attributes of a four-star running back (his ranking by 247Sports), but less-than-ideal size and speed that falls short of elite in terms of his reported testing ability. A Google search does not reveal any track times for the Little Elm back.

And if Kinner isn't a household name, it's because he's flown pretty far under the recruiting radar this season, despite the fact that he gained nearly 3,000 yards and carried the ball 55 times against Prosper in a loss earlier this year, a mark that ranked as the fifth-most carries in Texas high school history for a player in a single game. In all, it was good enough to be named the AP 4A Offensive Player of the Year.

On the recruiting front, he's yet to receive an offer despite his prodigious production, almost completely due to the fact that there are serious concerns about his ability to qualify out of high school. At the moment, any hopes of that happening seem to reside on the results of his ACT test. Recall that qualifying depends on a sliding scale based on GPA and test results, so how he finishes his fall semester and scores on his test will determine whether he will be eligible to play next fall.

If Kinner does get the necessary grades and score, there's a solid chance that Texas could opt to extend him an offer after area recruiting Darrell Wyatt stopped by Little Elm recently to check up on the productive back.

How does Kinner feel about Texas? He hasn't been shy in telling the recruiting services in multiple interviews that he would almost certainly commit on the spot if offered.

There are rumblings that the 'Horns are trying to flip a currently committed player (though no name yet), but if that doesn't work out and Kinner gets his grades in order, he could end up being the running back take in the 2013 class.

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