Every once in a while, two unconnected story lines are joined closely enough to turn into one blog post. Here’s to former East Lansing High School stars, Randy Kinder and Thomas Jackson. Thank you.
Kinder was an all-everything running back for the Trojans in the early 1990s — perhaps the most dynamic Mid-Michigan has ever seen — leading East Lansing to a Class A state title as a junior, before choosing Notre Dame.
He rushed for nearly 2,300 yards at 5.7 yards per carry but was rarely the true featured back for the Irish, during a period late in coach Lou Holtz’s tenure when the newest toy at running back regularly supplanted the veteran. Kinder played both roles in his career.
The South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen caught up with Kinder for a story Wednesday on Notre Dame’s current running back situation, which looks familiar to Kinder.
Notre Dame is using a five-running back rotation heading into Saturday’s game against Michigan State, which Hansen wrote more about in a separate story.
“When you’re a young guy coming in, it’s a lot easier than when you’re an older guy,” Kinder told Hansen. “We knew when we got an opportunity, we had to make the most of it.”
Kinder intended to be in South Bend for Saturday’s game, with Holtz being honored on campus Friday night. A graduate school conflict will keep that from happening. Kinder, Hansen wrote, is a senior VP for AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation in Washington D.C., and is closing in on an MBA from the University of Maryland.
Thomas Jackson is not of similar local lore, but he was one of my favorite college basketball players to watch at Butler — I think I’ve mentioned that I love watching diminutive point guards. That is, after he starred at East Lansing High School during the old Capital Area Conference’s final basketball heyday in the mid-1990s.
Jackson is being inducted into the Butler Athletics Hall of Fame this Saturday in Indianapolis.
I covered the Horizon League (then the Midwestern Collegiate Conference) while in college in Chicago during Jackson’s time at Butler, and remember distinctly a league tournament game in which he had 15 assists, zero points and no turnovers. He was a true point. And the point guard at the helm during Butler’s initial rise under Barry Collier.
It’s possible none of Butler’s recent successes — two straight Final Fours, jumping to the Atlantic 10 — happen if Jackson isn’t the point guard from 1998-2002, when it was all built. He left as the school’s all-time leading assist leader, having led the Bulldogs to two NCAA tournaments and two NITs.