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LSU cornerback Kary Vincent Jr. speaks to reporters Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 during Fiesta Bowl media day at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There was talk among the LSU coaching staff that cornerback Kary Vincent Jr. should head home to Port Arthur, Texas, instead of playing in the Fiesta Bowl after his father Kary Vincent Sr. died unexpectedly Wednesday.

The younger Vincent would have none of it, especially since he knows playing against Central Florida is what his father would have wanted.

“Me and my father grew up in football,” Vincent Jr. said Sunday during LSU’s Fiesta Bowl media session at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn. “I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in if it wasn’t for him.

“I know this is what he would have wanted me to do, so I’m doing it for him.”

Vincent also is playing for his team, which comes to the end of 2018 amid a desperate shortage of cornerbacks. Kristian Fulton underwent season-ending ankle surgery after being injured Nov. 10 at Arkansas. All-American Greedy Williams decided to skip the Fiesta to avoid injury as he prepares for the NFL draft. And Kelvin Joseph was left home for disciplinary reasons.

That leaves Vincent, a sophomore, and senior graduate transfer Terrence Alexander to start Tuesday against UCF, with players like sophomores Jontre Kirklin and Mannie Neatherly in backup roles.

“It was his decision” to play, LSU cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond said. “I can’t imagine the feeling — both of my parents are still around. But for him I think this is a comfort zone, being around the fellows and playing.

“Knowing his dad, this is basically what he would have wanted him to do.”

Being with his teammates is definitely the best thing for him right now, said Vincent, who will return home after the bowl for his father’s funeral services Saturday.

“It’s the only thing that’s keeping me going,” he said.

“Family comes first, but I consider these guys my family. I didn’t think twice about (playing).”

Vincent did not confirm the cause of his father's death, but Kary Vincent Sr. twice battled pneumonia this year, the second bout putting him in a coma during a trip to Arlington, Texas, to watch Vincent Jr. and the Tigers play their season opener against Miami.

Vincent Jr. said his father didn’t want him to know he was hospitalized again, only finding out in a text on Christmas Eve. Only a week earlier, they had talked about Vincent Jr.’s preparations for the Fiesta Bowl.

Vincent Sr. played at Texas A&M and spent two years on the Saints practice squad in the early 1990s. Football was always their common ground.

“We would watch games every weekend,” Vincent Jr. said. “It was like a film room 24-7. He was real big on the little things, like coach Raymond is now. Real technical.”

Even though Vincent Jr. picked LSU over his father’s beloved Aggies, he said his dad was always supportive.

“In pictures he had on LSU stuff like he played there,” Vincent said. “That made me happy.

“Dad was the funniest, realest person ever. People gravitated toward him. He was just a loving dude. I hope one day I can be half the man he was.”

Raymond said he believes Vincent will be ready to go come game time.

“He’ll play well,” Raymond said. “He’ll meet the challenge. He’s a competitor.”

Kary Vincent Jr. knows his father would have expected nothing less.


Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.​