Kincade mixes toughness, talent

BEAVER FALLS, Pa. -- There was not much cheering coming from Chandler Kincade on this particular Saturday, and it had little to do with watching the hometown Pittsburgh Panthers lose. Kincade could not even put his clothes on let alone do much clapping or fist pumping from the sidelines.

"We went to the Pitt-Notre Dame game and I brought a sweatshirt because it'll be a little chilly, and I was trying to get the sweatshirt off and I'm just pulling," Kincade said.

What left Kincade (Beaver Falls, Pa./Blackhawk) without much use of his right arm happened not even 24 hours earlier when a defender's helmet hit Kincade as he dove for the ball after a fumbled snap. No one will ever question Kincade's toughness after what happened next.

Coming right before halftime, the hit sent Kincade's right shoulder -- his throwing arm -- out of place. So what did Kincade do? He simply popped it back into place and kept playing. He would finish the game, and the injury would eventually cost Kincade nearly the entire second half of his sophomore season.

Tyler Beatrice, one of Kincade's closest friends and his center at Blackhawk, walked over to Kincade to help him up following the spill.

"He said 'Dude my shoulder is killing me. I heard a pop and it's hurting real bad,'" Beatrice said of his on-the-field conversation with Kincade (who downplayed the pain he felt immediately after the injury in an earlier interview). "I said 'If you need to you should go sit out' and he said 'No I'm fine.' He tried hiding it from the team, but he told me he was feeling it but you couldn't really tell."

Said Kincade: "Even my doctor said he hadn't heard of a QB doing that with their throwing shoulder injured."

Tony Kincade, Chandler's father, couldn't tell either. The Kincades did not go see a doctor for the injury until the middle of the following week.

"The problem is he wouldn't say anything was wrong because he wanted to play the next week, so we didn't take him to the doctor until Wednesday," Tony Kincade said, "and the doctor we took him to was just a therapist so they're trying to get him ready to play with a dislocated shoulder not knowing it's dislocated."

Still unaware of the severity of the dislocation and injury, Kincade went through warm-ups. Eventually, the 6-foot-5, 218-pound QB who can normally throw the ball 60 yards realized he couldn't play when a 10-yard out took two bounces to reach the receiver.

Playing with pain was nothing new for Kincade, however. The varsity starter since the third game of his freshman season, Kincade was not blessed with the strongest offensive line, which is not good in area known for producing hard-hitting, blue-collar linemen and linebackers.

"To be quite frank with you, there were games the pass protection wasn't very good," Blackhawk coach Joe Hamilton said. "He took a lot of shots. He was able to handle that. He was a very mature individual as a ninth grader. ... He took all those shots without a complaint. I'm sure in his mind he's thinking 'Come on, guys' but you're not concerned about his toughness whatsoever."

Former Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham was so impressed with Kincade's mental makeup as well as his physical tools that Graham offered Kincade before he ever watched him play a game live. In fact, Kincade had yet to play a game even as a sophomore before the local school jumped on Kincade.

Hamilton, in his 47th season as a high school coach and winner of more than 300 games, said Kincade is the most sought after prospect he has ever coached. Over the last two years, he said Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford, USC and a host of other major programs came to check up on his star quarterback.

Last November, Kincade committed to Pittsburgh, and, ironically, Kincade's parents called him "Chan Marino" growing up in homage to Pittsburgh icon and legendary Panthers quarterback Dan Marino. But with Graham's departure from Pitt to Arizona State, Kincade decided to reopen his commitment.

When Graham left in December, Kincade did not find out about it until he got a text alert on his cell phone. Despite the firestorm surrounding Graham's departure, Kincade holds no grudge against the former Pitt coach or the program and is still heavily considering Pittsburgh. He disagrees with how Graham left but understands his reasons for it.

"We talked about it as a family," Tony said. "You never want to hold someone back. If I got offered a lot more money for a job, well the loyalty is your family. We have no hard feelings toward him. You have to do what's best for your family."

Kincade is still getting to know the new staff and talks with Panthers quarterbacks coach Brooks Bollinger about once a week.

"I want to see how the season goes and stuff. I really rushed into things with the last staff, so now I'm taking it a lot slower," Kincade said, "and before anything else happens I just want make sure I'm comfortable with everything and they're still comfortable with me."