TCU free safety Derrick Kindred played the entire season with a broken left collarbone, the senior said at Wednesday’s Alamo Bowl news conference.
Three days before the Horned Frogs’ season opener at Minnesota, Kindred tripped over a player while attempting to break a pass.
“I felt it like a crack,” he said. “It was like my first serious injury since I’ve been playing football. I didn’t know what the feeling was. I just felt that I couldn’t move my arm.”
The prognosis from the TCU athletic training staff was a serious break, but that he could play on it without further injury.
Kindred was left with a quick choice — start the process of repairing the break immediately, which would have put him out for the season, or play through the pain.
It was really painful through the night. Sometimes I even asked myself why I was doing it, but at the end of the day, it was all worth it, showing the freshmen how to fight through things.
TCU safety Derrick Kindred on his broken left collarbone
“The initial comment the trainers said is, ‘Coach, I don’t see any way they could handle the pain, but if he can handle the pain, we’re not going to tell him no,’ ” co-defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow said.
Twenty minutes later, Kindred walked into a staff meeting in coach Gary Patterson’s office and told him he wouldn’t miss a game.
Extensive padding was placed around Kindred’s left shoulder to cushion the blows the bone would take.
He was also forced to change his tackling technique away from the left shoulder with which he typically led.
Kindred made nine tackles against Minnesota, including one for loss, and forced a fumble.
As early as the plane ride back to Fort Worth, he was in severe pain. Through the remainder of the season he had to change his sleeping habits as to not roll over onto the injured shoulder.
“It was really painful through the night,” Kindred said. “Sometimes I even asked myself why I was doing it, but at the end of the day, it was all worth it, showing the freshmen how to fight through things.”
Kindred has recorded 79 tackles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery this season.
That message was important for a Horned Frogs squad that saw 24 players miss time to injury, including 10 who suffered season-ending injuries.
Kindred will still wear protection under his left shoulder pad in Saturday’s Alamo Bowl.
After his final game at TCU, he will weigh his options on any procedures to repair the break, he said.
“Right now, it’s great,” he said. “No pain or nothing. I’m going to get it checked out again right after the game and go from there.”
Finishing the job
After two years with TCU, one as linebackers coach and the second as a co-defensive coordinator, DeMontie Cross is moving on, taking a defensive coordinator position at his alma mater, Missouri.
When he accepted the position a few weeks ago, he understood if Patterson didn’t want him to remain with the team through the Alamo Bowl, but hoped to finish the season.
“It was just important for me to finish what I started and to make sure that these guys knew that was an important lesson,” he said. “You don’t walk away from something you start. We’re always teaching them football X’s and O’s, but I think life lessons are just as important.”
He said his decision to leave TCU was a difficult one because of the work ethic Patterson has instilled in the program.
TCU will enter next season with Glasgow as the lone defensive coordinator.
Patterson still calls defensive plays on the sidelines, but Cross believes Glasgow could be the guy to earn more responsibility.
“I think that’s the one thing that, hopefully, as Coach Patterson backs off and is ready to let go of the reins a little bit, Coach Glasgow is the perfect guy to sustain the identity of what TCU is all about and I would expect for him to do so,” Cross said.
Travis L. Brown: email@example.com, @Travis_L_Brown.