Former Southern Durham star QB Kendall Hinton plucked from Denver Broncos practice squad to start against Saints

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- As recently as a month or so ago, former Southern Durham star QB and 2013 State Champion Kendall Hinton was staring the end of his football career, and impending real life in the face.

Hinton was working selling fundraising software to schools and organizations. Then came a call to join the Broncos practice squad and from there, the unthinkable. A pandemic promotion to starting quarterback for Sunday's game vs the Saints.

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"You know when I got the call, there was pure excitement, and of course there's nerves and disbelief," said Hinton.

Like every talented high school quarterback, Hinton had NFL aspirations, but just didn't see them unfolding quite like they did this weekend.

"I imagined myself playing quarterback in NFL four years ago but completely different. Being a completely different situation. But it's an experience like none, so," said Hinton.

Half "Rudy," half COVID cautionary tale - Hinton had no shot on Sunday.

Plucked off the practice squad with all the other Broncos quarterbacks unavailable due to a positive test and close contact tracing, he was asked to stare down an NFL defense with zero practice two years after last playing the position (at Wake Forest). Sleep was fleeting on Saturday.

"The matter of falling sleep was the nerves were gonna keep me up or the studying. So I eventually got some sleep, hopped up (Sunday) morning and got back to it," said Hinton.

Adrian Jones, Hinton's former high school head coach at Southern was watching with great interest back in the Triangle. He knew better than to try and reach out Saturday night, knowing Kendall's plate was already overflowing.

"I know what type of kid he is and I thought, I dreamed that he was gonna have the game of his life. That's what he wanted. But you know, at the end of the day, it didn't happen that way but he's a competitor," said Jones.

Miracles were unfortunately in short supply. Hinton's numbers were predictably grim.1-9 passing for 13 yards and two interceptions in a 31-3 loss. Still, Kendall emerged with the respect of his teammates and anyone who watched.

"As time went on and I felt the guys have my back, it did, it made me feel comfortable. It took some time but after awhile you know it's like riding a bike," said Hinton.

Jones still marvels at the reality of what his former player faced.

"There really was no game plan so for him to go out there against the team that he was going against with the defense they've got? Taking a couple of hits like he did? It showed what type of a warrior he is," said Jones.

It'll very likely be his only NFL appearance but for one afternoon Hinton was there in the center of the battle. A story to tell for a lifetime.

"I would not say this is how I planned it out in my dreams," said Hinton. "You know, it usually doesn't work out how you want it and so just getting this opportunity, this experience has been amazing."
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