While the Hawaii Warriors get ready to take the field tomorrow against the Montana Grizzlies, this Sunday one former player will get his opportunity in the place all football players dream of. Offensive lineman Kynan Forney will make his NFL regular season debut as a member of starting lineup for the Atlanta Falcons.
"I feel real blessed," Forney said, "I feel real fortunate that the coaches have put so much faith in me to go out there like that, so I'm going to go out there and do my best . . .I want to play every game and play every game well."
This Sunday will be the culmination of what has been a fantastic journey for the native of Douglass, Texas. After spending the entire 1999 season on the practice squad, Forney worked his way into the starting line-up as part of a unit that allowed just 10-sacks in 2000.
A call from Atlanta head coach Dan Reeves to June Jones on draft day set things into motion and with a solid recommendation from the Hawaii boss, Forney was selected in seventh round. From day one Forney said his primary goal was just to make the team and even now he said there is still a ways to go.
"I feel real good about it," he said, "I feel like I accomplished a lot but still have a lot more goals. You know this is just a stepping stone and I feel confident that I've been able to make this step."
His former UH coaches couldn't be happier and only see brighter future ahead.
"Kynan's done such a tremendous job," said UH offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh, "I'm so proud of him, he worked so hard here. Here's a guy who gets drafted in the seventh round and not only does he make it, he ends up starting for them."
UH head coach June Jones is a little bolder on his assessment. "Kynan looks like he's the best player on the Atlanta line right now to be quite honest," he said.
In the pre-season Forney saw extensive action on the field slowly working his way up the depth chart, his confidence growing bit by bit. "I've gotten a lot more comfortable with the offense," he said, "Learning about what to do, what calls to make, so that right there has given me more confidence about what I can do out there."
Forney is the third offensive lineman and the fourth player drafted from the University of Hawaii in the past two years. Fellow lineman Adrian Klemm (Patriots), Kaulana Noa (Rams), and linebacker Jeff Ulbrich (49ers) were taken in 2000. James Fenderson can also add his name to the list of NFL Hawaiians. The fullback made the New Orleans Saints squad after signing as a free agent this year.
All of the who will have run-ins with Forney and the Falcons sometime this season. First up for Atlanta will be the San Francisco 49ers and Kynan will have his hands full battling all-pro Bryant Young in the trenches.
However his mind will never be far away when it comes to the Hawaii Warriors and he likes their chances in 2001. "I hope they go undefeated," he said, "I know the offensive line will be solid. With (Vince) Manuwai, (Manly) Kanoa, Brian Smith, and (Uriah) Moinoa, I think the O-line will give up no sacks this year."
With all his success one would like to think Forney's got it all, however there is just one little thing. In the latest John Madden football game for the Playstation 2, Forney is not listed on the Atlanta roster and being an avid video game player he's not too thrilled about his omission. "I decided not to buy Madden 2002," he said, "They put guys in the game that got cut a couple of weeks back."