Kasen Kinchen, a Class of 2020 walk-on commitment for the University of Washington football team, will live out his childhood dream of playing for the Huskies.
Kinchen, a cornerback from Lake Stevens High School, planned to keep it close to home all along. He's among a group of six in-state walk-on players who round out the UW's latest class.
He'll share in this journey with Logan Bruce, a childhood best friend and longtime teammate at Lake Stevens. He and Bruce had college options yet they knew only one path.
"At the end of the day, we both wanted to be Dawgs,” said Bruce, a two-time All-State defensive back chosen by the Seattle Times. "It always was my dream to play at the UW."
Kinchen religiously attended Husky youth football camps as a kid and sat in the stadium for games. He drew recruiting interest from California, Oregon State and Washington State, the latter his dad’s alma mater, but they couldn't interest him.
Kirby Kinchen, his father and a Lake Stevens High assistant football coach, played a large role in Kasen's success. Since little league, dad coached his son every step of the way.
They live a short drive from the high school, which made it easy to work out. Kinchen and his dad together shared in footwork and technique drills.
“I like working hard and grinding,” the younger Kinchen said.
COVID-19 cut short Kinchen’s senior year, taking away prom and graduation memories. But he has the highlights of his senior football season to fall back on, which he'll never forget.
While Lake Stevens came up short in the playoffs, Kinchen appreciated that he had a final opportunity to put on the Lake Stevens purple and gold.
“I got to play one last year with my teammates," he said, "and we all grew up playing on the same youth teams."
For the next step, Kinchen created a bond with UW coach Jimmy Lake and new secondary coach Will Harris leading up to his decision to commit just days after his official visit this past January.
Kinchen’s first impression of the Husky program was that Lake instills a family aspect that he had hoped for. “I love the community,” he said.
Kinchen brings authenticity to the Huskies, following a daily mantra to “work hard, don’t let outside influences get you down and be you.”
He credits trainer Reggie Jones, a former cornerback for the New Orleans Saints and member of their 2009 Super Bowl championship team, with prepping him prior to his Husky pursuits.
Kinchen developed a bond with Jones through an opportunity to play on Jones' local select 7-on-7 team. They maintained a year-round connection. Jones, who played college football for Idaho and Portland State, also offered advice throughout the recruitment process.
“He has helped me become a good football player,” Kinchen said.
Kinchen also expressed his gratitude to another trainer, Loop Fitness' Mitch Roehl, who lent him weights to enable him to get stronger in the coming months.
He credits Roehl with improving his game, assisting him in getting stronger and helping him put on weight even while workouts temporarily take shape at home.
Kinchen, whose sports idol is Kobe Bryant, deferred to the late NBA basketball player when he made his Huskies commitment announcement on Twitter.
“Great things come from perseverance and hard work, no excuses,” the tweet read.
Kinchen will rely on all of that outside preparation and inner wisdom as he begins his Husky football journey .