Entering the 2010 season, it was pretty obvious that Niles Paul was going to be Nebraska's go-to receiver. Paul has underachieved so far in his Husker career, so a dominant season was bound to happen. Big things were also expected from tight end turned wide receiver Mike McNeil who has been a major scoring threat for the Big Red the past few seasons. New Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez hasn't had the opportunity to throw the ball much, but when he has he's been mainly targeting a different receiver, junior Brandon Kinnie.
After initially committing to play for Kansas State, Brandon Kinnie found himself suiting up for Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kansas. There, Kinnie established himself as one of the top JUCO receivers in the country. In 2008, the Kansas City native blew up the Jayhawk League with his 62 receptions for 845 yards and 10 touchdowns while also averaging 39.5 yards on his two kickoff return attempts. Kinnie's breakout season was enough to earn the receiver All-Jayhawk honors.
Kinnie's strong play would catch the eye of several major schools and he later committed to the Huskers in December of 2008 over offers from Arkansas and Kansas. Kinnie had a rather quiet first season with the Huskers, finishing with 15 receptions for 141 yards. However, it was towards the end of the season when Kinnie showed flashes of brilliance, creating a bit of optimism about his potential for a big year in 2010.
Now that we are three games into this season, Kinnie has not only shown he can play a major role in this offense, but also appears to be Taylor Martinez's favorite target. The Husker coaching staff broke Martinez in cautiously in the freshman's first two starts against Western Kentucky and Idaho in order for the young quarterback to get settled in. The past Saturday against Washington, Martinez was allowed to fling it a bit more and did so to Kinnie for several big plays.
On Nebraska's second drive, Martinez hit Kinnie perfectly between the numbers, Kinnie made a quick cut and sprinted down the sideline to the one-yard line for a gain of 55 yards. At second glance, Kinnie was actually robbed of a touchdown as he clearly had the ball over the goaline before his knee hit the ground. Martinez would go on to hit Kinnie on several third and longs as he finished the day with five receptions for 105 yards.
The junior has also shown at this point he's Nebraska's most complete receiver. Not only does he have tremendous hands, but he also does a great job of route running as well as gettting yards after catch (YAC). Kinnie also proved he can be a strong blocker when he completely took out a Washington cornerback, giving Roy Helu a clear path to the endzone on his 65 yard, third quarter touchdown run.
There's plenty of games left, but so far Kinnie seems as if he's well on his way to a huge season. The 6'3, 220 pound junior provides a huge target for Martinez and appears to be very reliable. Through the team's first three games, Kinnie has accumulated 181 yards on 14 receptions.