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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Faith made Forney a born-again player

 •  Ex-UH players just want a chance
 •  Ferd Lewis: Warriors building a tradition

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Forgive former University of Hawai'i offensive lineman Kynan Forney for his tempered enthusiasm as he awaits this weekend's National Football League draft, a lottery in which he holds the lucky numbers to a future of fame and fortune.

Former UH tackle Kynan Forney could be drafted somewhere in the middle rounds.

Advertiser library photo

For it has been about a year when Forney stopped worrying about things he couldn't control, when he surrendered his fears and doubts to his God.

"Last year, I gave my life to Christ," Forney said.

He cannot pinpoint his rebirth-day, but he knows it was approximately a year ago when his football aspirations were filled with uncertainty following shoulder surgery and his personal life was a blur.

"I was into doing some stuff I wasn't supposed to be doing," Forney said. "I was living the college life. I'll leave it at that."

The thing was, while his shoulders and aching knees were mending, his heart was in pain. Every day, he said, he would pray for a sign, to "help break old habits." Every day, he said, his prayers were answered, until one day he felt inner calm. He had faith.

Life is said to be a balance, and it was when Forney found peace that he was ready to go to war. Forney became, as UH assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh said, "a hell of a football player."

Forney always had the strength and foot speed, but it was his blocking technique and intensity that drew the most praise last year. Often when Cavanaugh wanted to illustrate a technique to the younger blockers, he would turn to his human chalkboard and say, "Watch Kynan."

"He has it all," Cavanaugh said.

Forney transferred to UH in 1998, played one season and then sat out the next following shoulder surgery. It was during his redshirt year in 1999 and in last year's spring practice, when Forney often worked out with the scout team, that Cavanaugh saw the potential.

"You could see the intensity," Cavanaugh said. "He was getting after it every play, even though he wasn't going to play that Saturday. When nobody is supposed to be watching and you see him perform at a high level, that's important. That's a tribute to Kynan. He has a passion for the game. It's hard to teach passion. You either have it or you don't."

Forney won the starting job at right tackle, eventually being named to the 2000 Western Athletic Conference all-star team. He parlayed that strong season into invitations to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

The 6-foot-2, 313-pound Forney, now projected to play guard, tested well at the combine. He bench pressed 225 pounds 23 times, ran 40 yards in 5.28 seconds (placing 10th out of 33 guards) and recorded a 27-inch vertical jump.

He is predicted to be drafted in the middle rounds. The Miami Dolphins have shown the most interest.

"I'm pretty sure I'll be drafted, I just don't know where," Forney said. "It doesn't matter. I never thought it would happen. My big thing growing up was I wanted to play big-time college football. When I finally went to college, it was like, dang, I need another goal. I feel like I'm dreaming."

Forney, who was raised in rural Texas, said he had several college offers, but couldn't resist when UH called.

"It was kind of a no-brainer," he said. "I always wanted to live in Hawai'i. When I was growing up, I would joke around with my mom, 'When are we going to Hawai'i?'"

He remembered watching a telecast of a Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium and thinking, "That stadium is kind of cool."

During his recruiting visit, "my decision was solidified," he said. "In fact, if football works out and I can make enough money, I want to move back to Hawai'i. We'll see."

For now, Forney is spending his spare time, like always, helping his father around the house. When he was growing up, Forney spent his weekends doing chores.

"Whether it was mowing the grass, weeding, picking up dead leaves, washing cars . . . there was always something to do," Forney said. "My parents made sure we were busy."

Since 1997, the family property includes a chicken farm. Forney said he will help his father pick up dead chickens, monitor the heating system, make repairs and prepare the chickens for sale. "Lucky me," he said, laughing. "It takes a full day's work to get a lot of stuff knocked out."

While the work is difficult, Forney said, he sees how much fulfillment it gives his father.

"This was my dad's dream," Forney said. "He always wanted to own a farm. He made a lot of sacrifices, but he finally got it started in the summer of 1997. I can understand how he feels. I know what it's like to live your dreams."