Winning Mindset: Dalton Kincaid
Every coach dreams about having players who care about winning more than anything else. In an era of highlights and instant fame, that trait can be difficult to find. Luckily for the Utes and Head Coach Kyle Whittingham, their roster is littered with players who put the team's goals above their own. For junior tight end Dalton Kincaid, this mentality applies not only on the field but also in every aspect of his life.
Kincaid grew up in Las Vegas, Nev., where he would routinely attend UNLV basketball and football games with his dad, Clark. Dalton and his dad would also throw the pigskin around at their house with a difficult twist.
"We had a trampoline in my backyard so I would dive and catch the balls he threw to me," said Dalton. "Three drops and we were done, but the better I got at catching that became two drops, then one drop."
Dalton shares a deep bond with not just his dad but also his mom, Vicki, and credits both for helping him grow into the man he is today.
"I love my parents. They're my backbone," explained Dalton. "They support me in everything I do and almost never miss a game."
Growing up Kincaid enjoyed basketball more than football. He compered his game on the hardwood not to a Steph Curry or LeBron James but rather Shane Battier.
"No stats, sets the screens, gets rebounds, takes changes, doing the little stuff and I've always loved nothing more than assisting my teammates," said Kincaid.
When Kincaid transferred to Faith Lutheran high school, he only planned on advancing his game on the court, but his teammates had plans for him on the field as well.
"With it being a small school, students played every sport, so my teammates talked me into football rather than having me just wait and train for basketball," said Kincaid.
Kincaid played only one year of high school football, but he left quite the impact. He earned all-state and all-conference honors after amassing 37 receptions, 745 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017.
His breakout senior season garnered the attention of the University of San Diego, where Kincaid played from 2018-2019. During his 24 games with the Toreros, he had 68 receptions, 1,209 yards and 19 touchdowns. During his sophomore season he was named an AP All-American (third team) and led all FCS tight ends in yards per catch (18.98).
While all those stats are impressive, Kincaid was able to make an even bigger impact in his community by volunteering his time to work with kids with autism. The tight ends introduction with these kids began the same way all his touchdowns do: with an assist from the man under center.
"Our quarterback Anthony Lawrence invited the whole team to come with him to volunteer, so I did," said Kincaid. "From there I just got more involved with the organization. They had a mentorship program where they paired you with kids who had similar interests as you, so I participated with kids who liked video games and sports. Being able to tie in football by volunteering with my teammates and spending time with the kids was just great."
After his two stellar years at San Diego, Kincaid decided to head northeast to Salt Lake City to join the Utes. Kincaid was attracted to the team's identity and wanted to join a locker room to not just find teammates, but brothers.
"I think the biggest thing for me was consistency in the coaching staff," said Kincaid. "Also, the winning culture, the fact that the players want to be here, they come back here once they graduate, and I also love the city."
A lot changed for Kincaid, when he came out to Utah but one thing that didn't was his desire to volunteer with kids. He now helps at an autism non-profit organization in Salt Lake City. Kincaid said he continues to do it because he really enjoys working with the kids and interacting with them one on one.
"There's something about each and every one of them that just sets them apart and I think it's awesome that they're all unique," said Kincaid.
Kincaid's start with the team would have to wait as he had to deal with all the challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic when he arrived. He spent a lot of the 2020 offseason home in Las Vegas, training with his friends to prepare for a season he could only hope would happen.
Once the 2020 season did begin Kincaid, saw action in all five games but caught only one pass. Most players would be distraught about such a drop off in production, but to Kincaid his personal stats aren't the main priority.
"The biggest thing for me is just doing whatever I can to help the team win," said Kincaid. "I put a big emphasis on blocking last year and really focusing on that. This year, I don't care if I have five catches or zero catches in a game as long as I'm just doing whatever I can to help my team win."
Kincaid credits his team-first mentality to his parents as well as the many leaders of the sports teams he played on growing up.
"Every competitive team I played on from AAU basketball to flag football I've had great coaches throughout my career," said Kincaid.
This mindset allowed Kincaid to stay ready for his breakout performance during the 2021 season opener, when he exploded for four catches, 75 yards, and two touchdowns in Utah's 40-17 win over Weber State. Kincaid's initial score was the first touchdown in Rice-Eccles Stadium with fans back in attendance, and to call the moment surreal would be an understatement.
"There's kind of no feeling like it," said Kincaid. "I kind of blacked out for a second but it was insane, and I don't even know what I did after I scored. I just remember getting to the sideline, sitting down, and thinking, 'Wow that was awesome.'"
Awesome is an accurate way to describe how it felt for Utah fans to be back in the newly renovated stadium for the first time in over a year. It's also a great way to describe how Kincaid and his teammates felt running out of the tunnel to more than 51,000 screaming fans.
"It was pretty surreal," said Kincaid. "Hearing all our fans roar as we ran out was definitely something new for me. The whole night was just amazing being there. The MUSS is awesome, all the fans are great, and I'm just looking forward to seeing a lot more of it this year."
Another set of moments that made the night so special for Kincaid was the team's tributes to Ty Jordan at the end of the first and third quarters.
"It was very emotional," said Kincaid. "Everyone on our team loves Ty, so I think it was great for his family to be there and to see the tribute. I'm stoked that we're going to be doing that for the rest of the season, and I hope it's something we do for every season to come."
Kincaid is majoring in international studies, and while his focus is squarely on this season, he does have a plan once his time as a Ute is up.
"Football is definitely something I want to continue to pursue," said Kincaid. "And real estate — buying 100 acres somewhere in Montana and just enjoying the land."
One thing is for sure, no matter what Dalton does in the future: any team that he's on will be lucky to have him.