Kincade’s journey continues as former Ole Miss QB leads Grambling to SWAC Championship
Houston, TX — Quarterback DeVante Kincade’s journey from Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas to Grambling State University was not a direct route down Interstate 20 like one might assume. Instead, Kincade made a stop along the way in Oxford, Mississippi at Ole Miss, where he had visions of doing whatever he could to help lead the Rebels to both SEC and national championship glory.
But as sometimes happens, life has a way of sending one down a road less traveled. In DeVante’s case, he went down a path that would eventually lead to championship glory—just not at Ole Miss as he originally planned. The key to this story, however, is that Kincade is a unique young man who has never met a stranger in his life.
Wherever he stops, he makes friends. Let me rephrase; he quickly makes friends.
In front of 24,917 at NRG Stadium in Houston on Saturday, Kincade helped lead his Grambling State University Tigers (10-1) to a 27-20 win over Alcorn State University in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship game.
The win marked the 25th conference title for SWAC-powerhouse Grambling, ending Alcorn’s improbable bid for three consecutive conference titles.
The Tigers were down 17-0 at the half before fighting and clawing their way back to victory. And Kincade was efficient as ever, going 15-22 for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Tigers went to a short passing game against Alcorn State, getting the ball out quickly to allow receivers to make plays. Grambling running back Martez Carter, who was named Offensive Player of the Game, rushed the ball 14 times for 136 yards with one touchdown, while catching 5 passes for 66 yards. The Grambling defense clamped down in the second half, and the party was on for the Tigers.
But let’s get back to Kincade.
Support from Rebels and Tigers
Everyone at Grambling (his new school) loves the guy. Everyone at Ole Miss (his old school) loves the guy. You normally don’t find that when a player transfers from one school to another.
Usually, there’s at least some bitterness from or toward the school the player leaves, but that is not the case when it comes to DeVante Kincade.
In fact, a sizable contingent of Rebel fans on social media kept track of the game and cheered on DeVante. Through the beauty of technology, many folks were able to watch the SEC Championship Game—being played at the same time—as well as gather updates through social media on Kincade and the Tigers.
So happy for Devante!
— Norma McCullough (@NormaMcCulloug7) December 4, 2016
Kincade’s former Ole Miss teammates also congratulated the quarterback on his success, among them Quincy Adeboyejo and C.J. Johnson.
Same ol Kincade always dancing 😂 @Dpk_Dowork2 congrats bro https://t.co/qqmlXVkg5H
— Quincy Adeboyejo (@QuincyA18) December 4, 2016
Kincade is a leader
After the SWAC Championship pregame press conference on Friday, I met Will Sutton, Director of Media Relations and Communications for Grambling State. I introduced myself and asked if I could have a few minutes to speak with Tigers’ head coach Broderick Fobbs. And, as soon as I mentioned Kincade’s name, Sutton smiled broadly.
Sutton was effusive in his praise of the Tigers’ quarterback and assured me I was next in line for a one-on-one with Coach Fobbs. One of the things I asked the coach was what it took to get Kincade to Grambling after the quarterback announced his intention to transfer from Ole Miss.
“It was a unique process. We weren’t even sure if we were going to get him, what with him being such a high profile athlete,” Fobbs said. “If anything, the foot injury kind of helped us a bit, because a lot of the bigger schools backed off but we stuck with him.”
Fobbs also spoke about Kincade’s personality:
“He’s a very infectious person. He’s a leader. When he’s energetic and ready to go, everyone else is.”
Grambling St. head coach Broderick Fobbs on Kincade
Treadwell: ‘It’s God’s plan’
At the final whistle of the SWAC title game, I watched Kincade dance joyfully. It was a big moment for the quarterback and he deserved to celebrate. When I spoke with him later, Kincade was both reflective and appreciative at the same time.
And through the biggest smile I think I’ve ever seen on a quarterback, he explained just how fortuitous his football journey has been.
When his Rebels took the field in the All State Sugar Bowl on January 1, 2016, Kincade had already announced his plans to transfer. However, the quarterback wanted to continue practicing with his teammates and was willing to risk a potential injury in exchange for being with them.
And, as fate would have it, Kincade broke his left foot while warming up for the bowl game. He was on crutches and wore a walking boot after the game, later undergoing surgery to have a rod inserted into his foot. He was out for six weeks and was unable to participate in Grambling’s spring workouts.
That might have been a setback for most people.
But, DeVante is not “most people.” He recalled what former Ole Miss teammate and current NFL wide receiver Laquon Treadwell said to him after the injury:
“I’ll never forget Laquon Treadwell walking up to me and telling me it was nothing but God’s plan. It wasn’t time for me to play in the (Super) Dome then.”
Kincade’s time did, indeed, come. His Grambling State team defeated Southern University, 52-30, last Saturday in the Superdome—the same stadium in which he suffered his injury almost one year ago. ”It (the injury) just made me more hungry to play in the Dome,” Kincade said.
“Last week I got the chance to play in the Dome for the Bayou Classic. This journey has been a long journey, but it made me grow as a man and made me closer to God.”
DeVante Kincade on returning to the Mercedes Benz Superdome
When I asked what made Kincade choose Grambling, he simply said, “Coaches.”
A season of honors
Kincade’s season has been nothing short of spectacular. In addition to being named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year, Kincade was also honored with the Ben L. Cavil, Sr. “Big Ben” Award, honoring the nation’s top HBCU football player for both his onfield performance and his off-field character.
The signal-caller also entered the league championship game ranked third in the FCS and first in the SWAC in passing efficiency (171.6) and first in the conference in completion percentage (65.2), passing yards per game (263.3) and total offensive yards per game (290.4). Kincade boasted 28 touchdown passes to just three interceptions, and posted two games where he threw for at least 400 yards and five scores or better this season.
The journey continues
What’s the next stop on Kincade’s path? Well, he and the Tigers travel to Atlanta to face North Carolina Central on December 17 in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, a matchup between the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and SWAC champions.
Things look bright for Grambling, as Kincade will be back next season for his senior year as the Tigers’ try to defend their title. They lose some players but will return six starters on offense and virtually all of their defensive starters.
It will be another fun trip and one thing is certain: DeVante Kincade will be cheered on by the many friends he’s met along the way—from Dallas to Oxford to Grambling.