After recording four sacks in an explosive breakout game against Delaware State in 2017, Joshua Kaindoh’s time as a Florida State Seminole has been littered with injuries. His sophomore season in 2018 was characterized by a nagging hamstring injury, and the defensive end was sidelined after suffering a serious leg injury against Virginia in Week 3 last fall.
With the season approaching, Kaindoh is looking to pick up where he left off. Following an offseason in which he worked diligently to rehab from surgery, the edge rusher has consistently earned plenty of praise from coach Mike Norvell and the new coaching staff.
Recently, the Seminoles took part in a ceremony of sorts in which the players, coaches and trainers all signed small paved rocks and smashed them with hammers to signify the end of training camp. But for some, the ceremony meant more than just the end of camp. For Kaindoh, it was the realization of his hard work and rehab.
“What it signified to me is that hard work is paying off,” Kaindoh said. “I think everything is about the work. It goes to show you that the hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. I came here in 2017, and things obviously haven’t gone as I wanted it to, but all I can do is just keep working. Hopefully all that hard work is going to pay off. I feel like breaking the rock showed me that it’s paying off. That makes me feel good, makes me want to work even harder. It’s good to get recognized.”
“One of the biggest things I felt when he smashed the rock was, man … it is always good to sometimes stop and smell the roses and look how far you’ve come,” safety Jaiden Lars-Woodbey added.
Lars-Woodbey suffered a season-ending injury one week after Kaindoh did last year.
“It has just been a journey for both of us,” Lars-Woodbey said. “I saw him in the training room, rehabbing, just knowing how that was. So it is just good to see both of us enjoying the fruits of our labor.”
Kaindoh’s accomplishments at Florida State thus far have been mostly off the field, earning ACC Honor Roll recognition twice and the team’s Academic Excellence Award in 2018.
As the 2020 season cautiously moves forward, he now has an opportunity to earn recognition on the field as a member of one of the nation’s best defensive lines.
With defensive tackle Marvin Wilson returning for his senior year to shore up the middle of the line, Kaindoh has the opportunity to become the next great Florida State edge rusher – a spot in which the Seminoles struggled mightily last season with Brian Burns’ departure to the NFL and a severe lack of depth at the position behind Kaindoh.
“We can be the best D-line in the country,” Kaindoh said. “But potential is just potential. We still have to put the work in to be what we can be. You can’t fall in-love with potential, you’ve got to go out there and actually do it. We believe — we truly believe — we can be the best D-Line in the country.”
The ’Noles will have an interesting matchup to begin the season in Georgia Tech, which has a spread offense with some read-option tendencies that Kaindoh knows will challenge FSU’s defensive front.
“You’ve got to be more balanced,” Kaindoh explained. “We’ve got to focus on the scheme and stuff, but you’ve got to know who’s back there and what attributes he has. We’re playing a mobile quarterback, so rushes have got to be more balanced to try and compress that pocket. More power rushes maybe, because you never know where he can escape from. He likes to run a lot and pull the ball even when you’re doing the right thing as the D-End especially. So, you’ve got to be really tight on your technique and fundamentals.”
Kaindoh expressed just how excited the team was for the start of the season, saying that through all the uncertainty, the team is confident and working hard every single day.
“I’m so blessed to heal, be back on the field, doing good. It’s all about the work. That’s good and all, but you’ve got to keep working every single day,” he said.
With the uncertainty of the season, and with the changing opponents, Kaindoh says Norvell has expressed to them that they should only control what they can control. For Kaindoh, he has used that to return completely healthy and has the potential for a breakout year as a key component of a top defensive line.
But in his own words, potential is just potential.
Kaindoh and the Seminoles continue to practice with a mock game Saturday before the season opener against Georgia Tech a week later.