York Catholic High School graduate Hakeem Kinard is coming off his best college football season.
Those efforts did not go unrecognized.
The former Fighting Irish standout has now been honored as one of the top players in Northeast Conference entering the 2018 season.
The 5-foot, 10-inch, 195-pound senior defensive back at Saint Francis was picked as a Preseason All-NEC selection by the league's coaches on Tuesday at the NEC Social Media Day at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets.
Kinard, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship, became a full-time starter for the first time in 2017 and stood out as a leader in the secondary. He ranked second on the team with 73 tackles, including 46 solo stops, with 6 1/2 tackles for loss and two sacks.
Kinard also recorded two interceptions, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and four pass breakups. He set career highs with 11 tackles in games against Towson and Sacred Heart. Kinard intercepted passes against Lock Haven and Wagner, including a 70-yard return vs. the Seahawks.
"It definitely is a good feeling because I definitely feel like I put the work in and I deserve it," Kinard said at the NEC event.
Kinard was the 2014 York-Adams Division III Player of the Year for York Catholic in 2014, helping the Fighting Irish go 8-4, including runner-up finishes in Division III and District 3 Class 1-A. In his senior season for the Irish, Kinard passed for 1,935 yards, rushed for 1,544 yards and totaled 37 touchdowns.
Kinard was one of five Red Flash players honored by the NEC. Saint Francis, located in Loretto, Pennsylvania, was picked to finish fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision conference in 2018.
Saint Francis is coached by Chris Villarrial, a former Hershey High School standout who went on to star at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and played a decade as an offensive guard in the NFL for the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills.
The Red Flash finished 5-6 in 2017, including a 3-3 mark in the NEC. Saint Francis returns nine starters on offense and six on defense.
SFU opens the 2018 season on Saturday, Sept. 1, at Lehigh, with a 12:30 p.m. kickoff. The Red Flash will make its home debut on Sept. 8 ,when it hosts Delaware State at noon.
Reach Steve Heiser at email@example.com.