It’s probably fair to say TCU safety Derrick Kindred likes to think ahead.
Sometimes a year ahead.
He did the math 12 months ago — Sam Carter was a senior; Chris Hackett was a junior who might declare for the NFL early.
That left Kindred with an idea of where his career was pointing: By 2015, he might be the most experienced player in the Horned Frogs’ secondary.
He was exactly right.
“Toward the end of my junior year, I felt like I was becoming the leader that I needed to be,” he said at Big 12 Media Days in July.
“In the spring this year, it was all about getting guys in position where they needed to be. And to grow some kids up to fill spots we lost last year.”
As the top returning safety for a defense that would need to replace six starters —including safeties Carter and Hackett, the fourth- and fifth-leading tacklers a year ago who combined for 11 interceptions — Kindred couldn’t afford to have a bad spring or bad fall camp.
And he didn’t.
When coach Gary Patterson complained last week about the up-and-down practices the defenses has put together in August, one of the players he praised was “Peanut,” the 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior from San Antonio.
“He’s been a leader. He’s made plays,” Patterson said of Kindred.
Kindred took the lead in the film room. In practice, he directed the safeties competing for the open jobs. Denzel Johnson, Kenny Iloka and Travin Howard knew who to look to.
“It was helping guys and telling them what they did wrong and things like that, and also for myself,” Kindred said. “It helped me become a better leader on and off the field.”
He speaks from experience.
“I played my freshman year; I feel like I had to grow up very quick,” he said. “I had to be more in the film room, more locked in. It makes the game more fun once you know what you’re doing.”
Of the cornerbacks, where sophomore Ranthony Texada returns at one spot but four others — senior Corry O’Meally, sophomore Torrance Mosley and freshmen DeShawn Raymond and Julius Lewis — have been competing for the other spot.
“They grew up a lot since last year,” Kindred said. “I feel like we have a better chance at the corner position to be faster than we were a year ago. Your freshman year, everything moves fast. So growing up is the game pace slowing down for you and then you knowing your assignments.”
Kindred remembers his first years at TCU, when he was a new player on campus and had to be on the learning side of practices.
“Sam taught me everything I needed to know, put me under his wing freshman year when I got here,” Kindred said of his former teammate Carter, who spent five seasons at TCU. “Knowing he was leaving, I just mirrored whatever he did.”
We have a chance to be faster, stronger. But it’s not even about that. It’s all about how you mentally prepare each week and how you study your opponent.
TCU safety Derrick Kindred
For Kindred’s teammates, his actions are nothing new.
Defensive end James McFarland said Kindred has “always been a leader.” But being the most veteran player in a position group means more than that.
“As far as being someone that the underclassmen can come to with a question or something that they don’t understand, he had to make sure he understood what was going on himself,” McFarland said. “He had to make sure he knew the playbook well enough to teach someone.”
Patterson’s faith in Kindred is secure. He said the safety has a “different mindset,” reflected in an ambitious class load to try to graduate in December and in losing 13 pounds.
“He felt like he was heavy last year,” Patterson said.
For now, Kindred — who got the nickname “Peanut” from quarterback Trevone Boykin — understands his immediate responsibility.
Like Boykin is on offense, Kindred is in charge on defense. Part of his responsibility is to make the secondary plays with chemistry, and none too soon, considering the season opener at Minnesota is less than a week away.
“It’s all about having that brotherhood in the back,” he said, closing his interview last month in Dallas. “We have a chance to be faster, stronger. But it’s not even about that. It’s all about how you mentally prepare each week and how you study your opponent. It’s kind of hard when you don’t have experience with the guys you’re playing with, but at the same time, we have to make it work like that right now.”
He was thinking ahead.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760
TCU at Minnesota
8 p.m. Thursday, ESPN