Troy’s Kitchens emerges as leader

Published 3:00 am Saturday, November 29, 2014

Growing up, Montres Kitchens always wanted to be on SportsCenter.

It didn’t matter how or why. He just wanted to.

So last Saturday, when his one-handed interception of Idaho quarterback Matt Linehan found its way to the No. 4 spot of the ESPN show’s top-10 plays of the day, Kitchens said he couldn’t believe his eyes.

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“It was an experience to remember,” Kitchens said. “As a kid I grew up just wanting to be on SportsCenter. For some odd reason, it didn’t matter. I got that opportunity and I am thankful. God put that opportunity in front of me so it came true.”

But that was just the tip of the iceberg for the junior safety’s memorable game. To add to his national television spot, Kitchens picked off two other passes in the game, one of which he returned or a touchdown.

Asked if his one-handed pick was more impressive than New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s one-handed touchdown snag one day later, Kitchens didn’t even hesitate.

“Odell Beckham Jr.,” Kitchens said. “I have never seen a catch like that in my life. He managed to get into the end zone.”

But Kitchens, soft-spoken and humble, isn’t one to walk around with his chest puffed out.

Even after a career day, Kitchens’ teammates said they never heard him brag, or much less talk about, his three-interception performance.

“He doesn’t talk about it. He is real modest. He is that kind of guy,” linebacker Wayland Coleman-Dancer said. “I have seen it a lot and I posted it (the catch) on my wall on Facebook because I’m happy for him, I felt like he is such a good guy. He is one of my brothers. He deserves it. He works hard and his passion for the game definitely showed that game.”

And Coleman-Dancer isn’t the only one in the Troy complex oozing with compliments for Kitchens.

Trojan defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt said he was impressed with Kitchens’ ability to lead by example.

“He’s a great kid,” Bolt said. “The thing that impresses me – everyone knows how great of a kid he is – I remember us coming back from a trip, a long trip, and he’s sitting there studying on the bus. He’s that kind of kid. He’s had a good career and will have a good career.”

And with a defense set to return the majority of its starters next season, Kitchens is quickly asserting himself as a sound defensive leader.

But don’t tell that to Kitchens. To him, the team will always come first.

“(We’re)Having fun together and everybody is enjoying playing together and playing with the dude beside him and I believe that everyone playing together as one has brought us together a lot and made us be able to do the things we have been able to do.”