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A lot goes behind choosing the school you represent as you enter the esteemed league of college football. Here to share his story is American football tight end for the Utah Utes, Dalton Kincaid. Dalton is someone who loves life, and it shows. When you see him compete on a football field, you know he’s having more fun than any other person in the entire stadium. He is the same guy on and off the field. In his talk with host Dan Clark, Dalton shares his journey into college football, which started in San Diego in 2018 until he moved to the University of Utah in 2020. Learn more about this episode’s spirited and inspiring guest by tuning in.
This episode is brought to you by Master Electrical Service — a supporter of Talkin’ Utes and Utah Football.
Dalton Kincaid Dives Into Who He Is Off The Football Field
Of all the guests that I’ve had an opportunity to interview, not just the famous, superstar, Grammy Award-winning songwriters and Hall of Fame athletes, speakers, actors and actresses, it’s time for us to dig deep into the heart and soul of one gentleman who loves life. You can tell it because when you see him compete on a football field, you know that he’s having more fun than any other person in the entire stadium. His name is Dalton Kincaid.
Dalton, you’re number 86 for the University of Utah. This show opportunity is for me to dig deep into your soul and figure out why your reputation is so extraordinary. You’re the same off the field as you are on the field. You love your parents. You honor your family, coaches, and teammates. Most importantly, you’re an athlete at the University of Utah, so you honor all of us because you represent us. You’re so smart, articulate, and passionate. You never say never. You never take a playoff. It’s such an honor to have you in the program.
Let’s get back to your youth. You grew up in the Las Vegas, Nevada area. You ended up going to Faith Lutheran High School. Take us back to your home. You had the chance to meet your mother at the Florida game and she’s so proud of her little boy Dalton. She’s a classy lady, sophisticated, elegant, polished and professional. She’s so proud of you and I know you’re proud of her. Take us back to your family life. What was it like growing up? Tell us about Faith Lutheran at the end of this.
Growing up was awesome. My mom has been a flight attendant since she was twenty so she’s been doing that her whole life. It comes with great perks as well. Getting to travel as a kid was awesome.
Which airline? Let’s plug it in.
United Airlines. My dad worked in the restaurant business his whole life with the Chart House. It’s all over the nation if you’re familiar with that. He went on to get his PhD and teach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
What did he teach?
Hotel Management and Organizational Behavior.
That’s one of the only universities in the country that has a major in Hospitality and Restaurant Management. Good for him.
It’s a good place to promote that too.
How far off The Strip is Faith Lutheran?
Faith Lutheran is probably twenty minutes off The Strip. Home was probably fifteen minutes, but they were opposites, so it was probably usually around a 30 to 35-minute drive. Usually, on the way back, it was a little bit longer because Vegas traffic is awful, especially during rush hour.
What other schools were in your league?
We played Green Valley in my senior year. Gorman is probably the biggest high school. That was in the playoffs so that was unfortunately who ended our season. That’s the biggest school we play in.
Let’s get into high school. This is one of the more intriguing stories I’ve ever heard. I write a lot of speeches for professional athletes, and had a chance to interview Roger Craig “Superstar” for the San Francisco 49ers. He’s an undersized running back. Head Coach Bill Walsh created the entire West Coast Offense around Roger Craig. He only played football for 1 year in high school, got 1 scholarship offer to the University of Nebraska, and was drafted. There were many similarities. Take us back to your high school experiences. As an extraordinary athlete, it doesn’t sound like you were playing every year at every sport.
I grew up playing everything. My parents put me in all these sports as a kid. Ultimately when I got to high school, I played football and basketball in my freshman year. I played JV basketball and freshman football. Coaches get fired for football. They bring in a more run-style coach. I ended up not playing during my sophomore and junior year. In my sophomore year, I only played volleyball, which was a cool experience. It’s a sport that I had never got to play. In junior year, I ended up not playing anything. In my senior year, I played basketball and football.
Do you have good hops playing volleyball?
I feel like it did help the vertical a little bit. It was a fun experience. More so, it helped me prepare for living in San Diego when I did get there. I played beach volleyball, so I had a little bit of an upper edge against some of the guys when we play against the other team.
You played football in your senior year in high school. How many scholarship offers did you get?
It was four. The University of San Diego doesn’t have a scholarship program. It’s almost not an offer because you don’t get anything covered. You have to supply financial aid or get an academic scholarship.
It’s the white school up on the right side driving down. Is that 5 or 4 when you see it up on the cliff?
I want to say it’s five.
You had an alumni party. Who comes to the alumni at the University of San Diego? Not San Diego State, mind you, but the University of San Diego. Did you say to those who go to San Diego State, “Always work for those who go to the University of San Diego?”
That’s always what we say there.
Was it an alumni meeting, party, or game?
The alumni game was after that. I still have some great friends there. I was looking at some of the highlights. One of the people they mentioned being at the game was an astronaut. You don’t see that from all schools and that’s one of the few astronauts that they’ve had graduate from the University of San Diego. There’s a guy whom I wish I knew his name off the top of my head but he was a Navy SEAL and then became an astronaut. He also has a bunch of crazy accolades that he’s compiled throughout his career.
What are the other three schools that came calling besides the University of San Diego? They come to you and say, “We want you to play for us for free.”
You got to credit them for the recruiting because it’s so difficult. They have to have a good pitch. It’s the selling point more than anything being able to live in San Diego and go to what they consider a very prestigious school academically.
The reality is when you get old like me, you look back and realize that we become the average of the five people we associate with the most, which means we must be willing to pay any price and travel any distance to associate with extraordinary human beings. One of the reasons why we choose the schools we do is for the people we’re going to meet and the friends we’re going to make. My dad always told me, “Identify the thorough bread of your generation and keep in touch.” What were the other three schools that recruited you?
Black Hills State, if you ever heard of that.
Is that in North Dakota?
All these schools that recruited me were North Dakota and Northern Washington. The very tip, as close as you could get to Canada, Northern Idaho schools. A lot of D2 and D3 schools recruited me.
What did you play in high school?
I played receiver. I was probably 185 pounds.
What made you choose San Diego? Is it the academic influence of your parents and seeking a high and very prestigious education?
That was huge for me, especially with my dad being a professor. Academics was always big but the location was a huge selling point. The program is very successful as well. We won 8 or 9 consecutive conference championships.
Were they pro-style? What was the offense that you were in?
We ran a West Coast-style offense.
You stayed at the University of San Diego for one year and then what happened? How did you hear about the University of Utah?
I was at the University of San Diego for two years. I played what would be my freshman-sophomore year. In 2020, COVID and the pandemic happened. We get sent home I believe in March of 2020. That was the longest I’d been home since I’d gone to college. Usually, I would come home for probably a few days because growing up in the Vegas heat compared to San Diego is a big difference.
I had the ability to go play at a bigger and more reputable school for football knowing that I could take that chance on myself. I believe in myself and my parents believed in me. They gave me the green light to go ahead and do that. I saved them a few dollars as well not having to pay for school, living in San Diego and all that comes with that.
How did the U hear about you?
I’m not sure. You go into the portal. It was all new to me so I was asking people that had experience with transferring. It’s crazy. It was what I never got to experience in high school as a senior. Maybe it wasn’t the best time to go into the portal because it was usually around a time when all the schools used up their scholarships. A lot of the offers that I did get when I did go in the portal were more preferred walk-ons saying, “We promise we’ll get you a scholarship next semester.”
The U pulled out the contract and said, “We want to put you on a full ride.”
They had the ability to put me on a scholarship right away. It was a great opportunity to come to play for a great program. The biggest selling point for me was the consistency in the coaching staff. At San Diego, I didn’t have that. I had 4 or 5 different tight-end coaches within two years, which got to be a record. If you look at Utah, everyone who’s been here has been here for a while and has come back. A lot of former players come back to coach.
Let me cut right to football. You’re an impact player. The biggest players make the biggest plays in the biggest games but that has nothing to do with you because you come to play in every play and every game. I love interviewing folks, my books and speeches. I’ve interviewed at least the top ten collegiate coaches and pro coaches like Saban and Urban Meyer.
They all agree that winning and losing a football game boils down to six plays. You never know what those six plays are until you’re driving home. I watch you every play. The coolest thing is when I come in and work with the team, as I’ve worked with so many of the teams in the NFL, I come in and tell them that. We then go to practice and I say, “You can’t afford to take one playoff.”
My ultimate compliment to you, Dalton, is as I watch you, you never take a playoff. If you look at the highlights of the game against USC, you were one cat shy of an NCAA record that would never be broken but they don’t talk about all the plays where you blocked. They didn’t take into consideration all the pass routes that you ran with perfection to allow another teammate or somebody to get opened.
You are such an extraordinary player. Have you always been raised that way? Everything matters. You go down for a downfield block and if you don’t make that block, we don’t have a giant game. You never take a playoff. Do you know that? Do you consistently commit to that at the beginning of the game? Do you focus and get your energy level back up for the next snap? Tell us how you focus. The people who tune in here mostly are not elite athletes. They want to know how you do what you do so we can take that and apply it to our everyday lives in the workforce as family men and community activists. Teach us.
I feel like a lot of it has to do with all the influences I’ve had in my life. Great coaches and teammates have had a heavy impact on my life. You become the five people you surround yourself with. Knowing and taking the coaching to heart, the biggest thing that coaches try to do is get the best out of a player because that’s ultimately what they want for themselves and you as a person.
More than anything, knowing that the next snap is never promised and that applies to life. The next day is never promised to anyone. In football, in every play, something crazy could happen. You could be not involved in the play and get hurt or injured. You never know what could happen. One of my best friends went down with an injury in 2022.
More than anything, he would want to be out there, help us, contribute and have these experiences that we’re having, knowing that he can’t do and control that. It hurts. You want to play harder for that. What you do put on film is who you are and that’s what they preached a lot. The film doesn’t lie. That’s my approach to a lot of things in life. You got to give it your 100%. You can’t leave it to question.
Utah is famous for recruiting a lot of two-star athletes and turning them into 3 and 4-star athletes. Put your humility in your pocket coming out of high school or the University of San Diego. How would you classify yourself as far as a star athlete?
I don’t think I had a star coming out of high school at all.
Not even a one-star athlete?
I don’t think so.
You proved yourself at the University of San Diego. What do you think you were coming out when you entered the portal?
I don’t know. I never paid attention to any of that. I still don’t focus on any of that. I can control what I can control. Someone labeling you as a three-star or four-star, that’s their opinion about you.Someone just labeling you as a three star or four star athlete is kind of just their own opinion. More than anything, that's their opinion about you. Click To Tweet
It’s more of a national scale, 3-star athlete, 4-star athlete and 5-star athlete. I’m milking you for this next question because whatever star you were, let’s say you were 1-star coming out of high school and 3-star coming out of the University of San Diego but you are a five-star athlete. With this transfer portal and with the NFL questions all about, it’s not just recruiting but it’s retaining our star players.
Rumor had it that you were getting sugar daddies from some huge programs around the country. I can whip out schools like Alabama. I choke up when I say that word because I remember the Sugar Bowl. It’s never a rolling tide around here. You heard from Sugar Daddy and Alabama offered you big bucks and some other SEC schools I understand. I don’t know if you want to mesh them but tell us why you turned them down as a young man and decided to stay in Utah. Did they happen at the beginning of the season?
It was during summertime. With NFL and the transfer portal, it was the Wild Wild West. You saw what happened throughout the country. All these schools bring in these big guys with no repercussions at all. Whatever happens, happens. The biggest thing with sports, especially in college is you go to a school and want to become a proud alum of the school you went to. In college, in particular, you want to go to a school that you can represent and be proud of for the rest of your life. You want to show loyalty to your school.
Something that the trench portal and NFL is going to not ruin with college football but take it away a little bit is that pride that you have, representing whatever program that you go to. Many guys came back in 2022. We had a lot of big goals. You can’t take away knowing a whole offense, having great chemistry with the quarterback or having great coaches that trust you and want the best for you. Knowing the stability and loyalty to this school was a no-brainer so I decided to stay here.
Let’s shift gears to personal. What do you do to get ready for a game on game day? Take us from the time you wake up. Let’s say it’s a noon game or a 7:00 PM or 8:00 PM game. There are two different mindsets. Tell us what you do.
Those early morning games are a little more different. The schedules push up a bit. You do more stuff the previous night. You’re waking up a little bit earlier. For me, in particular, I like to listen to music that doesn’t hype you up. I like country music a lot. That’s my go-to for a game. I’ll listen to country music or some pop music.
Who is your favorite artist?
I like Chris Stapleton a lot. He’s one of my go-to’s. I like Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen and all the new big guys. Chris Stapleton, especially when he was with his band, I liked him a lot. Springsteen is one of my favorite songs. Music is a big influence on it.
Do you wake up in the morning listening to music or when you take a shower? RJ Hubert said he has to take a shower right before the game so he gets recalibrated. Even if he’s already taken one during the day, he takes another one before the game. Do you have any rituals or superstitions?
I make sure to run around the field when I come out for warmups. That’s one of my main things. I’ll cover the whole field and run around the circumference of the field. That’s what I do as soon as I come out and that’s probably one of the most consistent pregame rituals that I have.
What’s your favorite food?
I love steak. You can’t go wrong with steak.
Are you married? Do you have a girlfriend? I knew the answer, but I wanted to make sure we got that right.
Not married, no girlfriend.
If you’re a batch and you have to default, what food would you cook for yourself? Come on, you’re so articulate and smart. Don’t say a hot dog. I’ll have to rip your lips off. What do you eat? What would you fix yourself?
I got Traeger Ranger. We did some smoke burgers.
What’s your favorite movie and why?
I love movies. I’m a big fan of The Great Gatsby.
The Robert Redford version.
I like Leonardo DiCaprio.
Why The Great Gatsby?
I like the plot a lot, the storyline. There’s a lot of foreshadowing throughout the movie. The storyline is pretty neat.
It’s not Rocky or Top Gun: Maverick, none of those.
I shy away from scary movies. Benchwarmers has always been one of my favorite movies. I could probably quote the whole movie. I’ve watched that ever since I was a little kid.
When you get a chance to play on Sunday, let’s talk about your favorite programs that are inspiring. You mentioned the reason why you wanted to come to Utah and stayed with all the temptations of the NFL and transfer portal. It’s the stability, tradition, continuity of coaches and system that you would be able to thrive in. What would be your favorite 2 or 3 teams that you’d want to be drafted by?
When I ask people who have experience in the NFL, the biggest thing that they always say is the culture around a team. Some of the guys I’ve talked to have played for multiple different teams who have different cultures and that’s a huge impact on the outcome of that team too. The more you look at these successful teams, especially in the NFL, you have to believe that they have a good culture and that starts with the players and the coaching staff. Playing for a team with some veteran players that have a good influence on the culture of the team is something that I’m looking for in a program. Ultimately, whatever team believes in me and wants to give me that opportunity, I’ll be proud to play for and represent.
Do you have two siblings?
Yes, older brother and older sister.
What do they do? Are you close to them? What do they teach you?
My sister is in her residency so she’s going to become an emergency doctor quite soon. She’s living in Denver. My brother is a flight attendant for Allegiant. They’re helping to pay for flight school too with the lack of pilots. If you’re interested in it, they help out a little bit. He ultimately wants to become a commercial pilot.
If you had one hour to live, what would you say to the world? What’s your message?
Go and experience the world as much as you can. The biggest thing is to go outside and experience all these different places that you can go to.
Your hobby is travel. What else would you have as a hobby?
I’d love to travel more. Hopefully, I will at some point when I have some more time. Golfing is up there too.
Coach White goes on file saying that you’re the very best basketball player on the football team. Without throwing our basketball team under the bus, why don’t you walk onto our basketball team with you and help us? Why are you so selfish?
I love basketball. I would have to deflect that and say Dion Bailey is the best basketball player.
Why don’t the two of you walk into the basketball program? You’d finish your season. I played baseball. Once you put the pads away, you can do whatever you want to do.
I would love to go play a game. That’d be a pretty cool accomplishment.
Let’s see what we can do. I hope the coaches are watching this program so they can knock on your door. Project yourself in 2027. Where do you want to be with your intellect, business acumen and education? Football season is only half-time. Steve Young is one of our heroes and he went to law school in the off-season. Many of these superstars that I become good friends with did something in the off-season to better themselves to prepare themselves for the future. I say that because it’s something you brought up.
In the game, it was a hush silence over the stadium when you went down. The medical and the coaching staff that surrounded you, we couldn’t see what was injured. We didn’t know what was going on. When we saw it was your knee having a serious injury, that’s at the forefront of every athlete’s mind and yet you play with reckless abandon. You go up and catch these unbelievable catches in traffic. You catch it and motor for another 3, 4 or 5 yards while these dudes are trying to take off your head. There’s a chance. What’s your future look like? Maybe you play in the NFL. In 9 years, maybe you get your 3rd contract. You stay for twelve years because you’re so resilient. You’re in awesome shape but let’s project life without football. What do you think you’re going to end up doing?
I started my real estate license. Real estate has always been something I’ve been interested in. I’ve probably seen every real estate show you could see on TLC and Netflix. I’m investing in some property and seeing where real estate is going. I feel like with real estate, you’re always trying to predict what’s next. I want to do that. I hope to have a family. Becoming a dad will be awesome. That would be a huge accomplishment. Being a big part of that too. Being present and being the best dad I could be.
You’ll be an awesome dad. Any male can be a father but it takes a special man to be a dad. I like the difference in the words you use, trust me. Who is your inspiration? Let’s itemize your dad and your mom. Are you a man of faith?
Yes. It has a big impact. I do pray before every game and every practice.
You’re the godfather of RJ Hubert’s son, Noah.
Yes. I’m not sure if it’s official on paper anywhere but honorary, I’m the godfather.
Final question, who in the NFL inspires you, current or past? Whom do you emulate? Who do you see yourself as? You’re such a utility tied in but you have so much skill. It is unbelievable. Who would 1 or 2 players that you emulate that you would hope to be compared with as you start setting NFL records when you’re done setting NCAA records?
You look at the current tight ends. Travis Kelce is the name that pops out. That’s whom you want to be. He’s dominant and always open. That’s the number one goal. Be tenacious like Kittle, especially in the blocking game but especially after the catch for both of those guys too. They do some special things with the ball in their hands.
There you have it with Dalton Kincaid. I can’t thank you enough. You’re the most impressive young man on the planet. I know all the other players who are interviewed are going to be reading this. Let’s put it down that as a songwriter, I would write a song about you. I don’t know what rhymes with Hunka Hunka Burning Love. You have a million-dollar smile and a voice of God. My daughter is a little bit older than you, but she’ll wait for you.
About Dalton Kincaid
Has played in eight games with seven starts at tight end and has 46 receptions for 614 yards (13.3 ypc). Has been named to the Biletnikoff Award, AFCA Good Work Team, John Mackey Award and Wuerffel Trophy Watch Lists.